Introducing Our Cohort of “Climate Champion” Teachers!

April 21, 2022

We are delighted to welcome this astonishingly talented cohort of nine Philadelphia High School teachers as a Climate Champions and part of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities' My Climate Story public research project. 


Freda or Frankie Anderson teaches African American History and World History at Academy at Palumbo in South Philadelphia.

“In the last three years, I have noticed a shift in the climate consciousness of students. Kids are coming into school with a constant background part of their brain reminding them that the planet is in crisis. In speaking with them, it doesn’t even seem to be a fully conscious understanding of what is happening. My fear here is that when people start to incorporate crises that are not and should not be normal into their understanding of what it means to exist, then they won't even recognize climate crisis as something that needs to be fought back against. Humanizing this crisis through stories can help combat this I hope.”


Mariaeloisa Carambo teaches History at Paul Robeson High School in West Philadelphia.

“I wish to help students consider their relationship to the land on which they currently live, to what extent they already care for our environment, and how we can further and more actively increase our engagement in the fight to protect our planet. As one of the leaders of the now retired Philadelphia’s Teacher Action Group network, I worked extensively with story circles to document people’s lived experiences with our educational system and to find power in collective narratives. I seek to incorporate this powerful practice in my classroom next year as I help students explore the importance of caring for our land, ourselves, and communities. For all these reasons, I seek to participate in PPEH’s My Philadelphia Climate Story project.”


Anna Herman is an Urban Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (AFNR) Management Educator at the U School in North Philadelphia.

“This year I introduced a unit called “the power of place” in which students work over the course of months to do asset mapping and create story maps. I have added a deep dive into student environmental health data collection and student created data visualization lessons to this unit, but really need a more cohesive, structured, and supported “storytelling” frame. My Philadelphia Climate Story could be that frame. I am particularly interested because participation would link students to other students and educators in a network which reinforces the interconnectivity that is essential to change making.”


Monica Rowley teaches English at Masterman High School in Fairmount.

“I am passionate about providing students with information to empower them to work for climate justice. The chance to work with you would provide me resources to go beyond what I am already planning. I use the initial inquiries of the students’ interests to teach research practices: vetting sources, analyzing data, adding to existing data with ethnographic work, to name some of the lessons. Of note, the College Board piloted their AP Research course in my classroom, and I have worked with them to develop curriculum and train teachers across the country. I know my work with the Almanac production and nature observing and writing will contribute to the My Philadelphia Climate Story. I would incorporate real world inquiry projects focused on developing writing skills, appreciation for the natural world around us, spaces for students to take action, and ways to connect with fellow Philadelphians. I am also a poet, and I would create a unit that focuses on nature and poetry.”


Matthew Scanlan is an Environmental Science Teacher and Dean of Students at Northeast High School in Northeast Philadelphia.

“Students in my classes learn not just about what is wrong with our planet but explore ways that their decisions and actions have a large impact. I teach my students to "Think Globally, but Act Locally." Too many times my students think the problem is far beyond their capabilities to fix. I teach them the power of influence and how quickly ideas and actions spread when someone takes the first step. I would like to be involved in having my students participate in something larger than themselves. Students need to learn that their ideas and voice have weight and power; the things they experience need to be heard.”


Christopher Sikich teaches AP Biology, Honors Biology, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Environmental Science at Philadelphia High School for Girls in Olney.

“Climate science is key to the future of the planet and engaging students with this topic to help them become the leaders of the climate movement is an important part of my goal as a teacher. To center my curricula more on climate and connect with larger resources beyond my fingertips would be a vital way to making the dream of having future climate leaders a reality. My students come from throughout Philadelphia and are in need of context as to why climate is important to them and their communities. My classroom's involvement in this program would make this possible.”


Avery Stern teaches English and Climate Change studies at Kensington CAPA in Kensington.

“For the last three years I have taught the literature of climate change and environmentalism to both middle and upper school students. As a member of this program, I would bring my knowledge of the subject as well as energy and passion, and use the materials to directly apply them to my classroom for both middle and upper school students. It would also help me to advocate for a more expanded program at both my current school and those I hope to work at and with in the future. This has long been my specific area of interest, and to be able to have the backing of this program and community would allow me to highlight this work as vital within the Philadelphia education system.”

Joni Woods teaches English at Academy at Palumbo in South Philadelphia.

“Why should English be an island of thought when storm waters from the Schuylkill can cause our schools to pivot to remote learning? English, like everything else, is affected by climate change but it also can affect how we view climate change and ultimately, how we act on it. Margaret Atwood said, "It's not climate change, it's everything change.” In that spirit, students can learn to use a global approach to thinking about a problem that affects the entire globe. My hope in participating in this program is that I will emerge with more tools to teach students about climate change. Ideally, I would also like to work with other educators to create a course that helps students see overlapping problems that require collaboration and coordinated responses.”


Rebecca Yacker is a Dual Enrollment Coordinator in the English and History Dept. at Saul High School in Roxborough.

“Because Saul is an agricultural sciences school, I want our students & our curriculum to reflect leadership in the fight for environmental justice and sustainability. By strengthening interactive learning opportunities around climate change, Saul’s students can pave the way for engagement and action to support a greener, more equitable future. Being a part of the project would further support my professional development and engage my students in informed and authentic learning experiences. With the support of the Penn Program in Environment Humanities, I hope to enrich my curriculum and spark passion and civic engagement in Saul’s students to act as agents of change to create a better, more sustainable future.”