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UFT Humane Education Committee P-credit course

Learning to teach about animals

Gary Schoichet Showing off their culminating projects are Brooklyn educators (from left) Sean Wilkinson of MS 113, Ana Polanco of PS 771 and Michael Fiskaa of PS 77.

Lions and tigers and … teachers? Absolutely, says Sheila Schwartz, the co-chair and founder of the UFT’s Humane Education Committee, which wrapped up the last session of its spring P-credit course, Promoting Success in Science and Literacy through Humane Education, on May 19.

Conducted over eight sessions, the 36-hour course aimed to show teachers ways to incorporate lessons on animals, the environment and human rights into the science and literacy curricula they use with their students.

Teachers participating in the course learned how to teach their students — in grades K to 8 and special education classes around the city — about farm animals, wildlife and Jane Goodall and her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees, among other topics. They also studied pedagogical techniques and took three field trips: to Battery Park for a bird-watching expedition; to a horse sanctuary in Locust Valley; and to Animal Haven, a center for rescued cats and dogs, on Canal Street.

In their final session, the educators presented their final projects, mostly class books on themes related to humane education that they completed with the help of their students, each of whom contributed a page of writing or drawing.

Schwartz summed up the importance of helping educators teach children about the humane treatment of people and animals.

“If kids learn to be humane and compassionate at an early age, hopefully it will influence the adults they grow up to become,” the veteran elementary school teacher said.

Participants who successfully completed the course, which was co-sponsored by the ASPCA and Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), will earn three credits toward a salary differential. Those interested in taking the course next year should write to uftprofessionalcommittees@uft.org or call Sheila Schwartz at 1-212-410-3095.

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