Thursday, April 24, 2008

Furry, feathered and finned are friends in this classroom

Celebrated teacher talks with the animals

By Elizabeth Benton
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN — From three buckets of just-hatched salamanders and a giant African millipede, to hamsters Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, it’s likely Marjorie Drucker’s classroom at Barnard Environmental Magnet School houses more fish and furry creatures than students.
It’s a balance that seems to work.
“I like school better than my house,” said Barnard school third-grader Rockeim Dukes, who stayed behind in Drucker’s room organizing a stash of markers as his classmates poured into the adjacent school courtyard to honor Drucker, the school’s science magnet coordinator.
The Connecticut Science Teachers Association named Drucker the 2007-08 Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Barnard school celebrated Wednesday, singing songs about the earth, and planting an azalea in Drucker’s honor.
“You’re filling these young folks’ lives with interesting, exciting education. You are a role model,” Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo said.
Barnard students visit Drucker’s classroom at least once a week to chart progress on several classroom projects and feed their favorite creatures.
This Friday, Barnard students will release inch-long salmon alevin (some just emerging from their yolk sacs) into waters at Devils Hopyard State Park in East Haddam.
“Certain kids love certain animals,” Drucker said. “Some love the koi fish, some love the hamsters.”
On Wednesday morning, Drucker was paying particular attention to “Franklin” the turtle, feeding him carrots, peas, tuna and banana.
Franklin headed straight for the banana, then plunged his face and foot into his food.
“He loves banana,” Drucker said.
Drucker will be honored April 30 at the CSTA award dinner at the New Haven Lawn Club.

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