Buddy Bison Honors Extraordinary School Leaders

It’s award season! We all know about the Emmys, the Oscars and the Tonys. Last Friday, NPT surprised two members of the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School with The Buddy, our National Teacher Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship.

Typically, we annually honor one outstanding educator; however, this year we made an exception and chose to recognize two extraordinary environmental school leaders: Bobby Caballero, Dean of Students and Rene Hayden, a 3rd-grade teacher. Each of them have played an important role in the implementation of the Buddy Bison School Program and engaging their entire school with parks and the outdoors.

“Elsie Whitlow Stokes was one of the first schools to join the Buddy Bison School Program in 2009, our inaugural year,” stated Grace Lee, NPT executive director. “Although the program was just getting off the ground, Bobby Caballero quickly embraced our new initiative, realizing the value of parks for his students.” And as soon as Rene Hayden learned about the program, he enthusiastically led the charge as well, using every opportunity to take his classroom curriculum outdoors and teach his students about the importance of park stewardship.”

What have the Stokes scholars experienced since 2009? They have paddled on the Anacostia River, rock climbed at Carderock with Secretary Sally Jewell, hiked and explored the planetarium at Rock Creek Park, helped us honor Representative Mike Simpson (ID) with the 13th Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award, enjoyed an annual all-school fall day at Watkins Regional Park where they also camped overnight. And this spring their 3rd graders and Rene will camp for three days and two nights at Harper’s Ferry.

Thank you Bobby, Rene, and Stokes PCS for leading by example and showing how beneficial and great the outdoors really are!