ROW/KSOE Teacher of the Year

Anne Atwell McLeod, teacher, and award-winning student at the 2013 River of Words Ceremony
Every year, the Center for Environmental Literacy works in collaboration with the Kalmanovitz School of Education to choose a stellar educator as the ROW / KSOE Teacher of the Year.

2022-2023 Deadline: January 31, 2023

Do you know a teacher who...

  • Inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn?
  • Plays an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school?
  • Works in and out of the classroom to preserve and protect the earth?
  • Utilizes River of Words creatively in the classroom and community?
  • Lives and teaches in the United States?

If so, consider nominating them to for consideration for the River of Words/Kalmanovitz School of Education Teacher of the Year Award! Each year, ROW/KSOE's Teacher of the Year is invited to join the River of Words Award Ceremony, to be honored for the work they do in their schools and communities. 

If you would like to attach additional materials, such as properly credited poems written by students of the nominee, or local news articles written by or about the nominee, you are welcome to do so via this form. Please note that we can unfortunately not accept nominations of teachers outside the U.S. at this time.

Nominate a teacher

Words of Wisdom from Past Teachers of the Year


The legacy of teaching River of Words 

In 2013, Olivia Henshaw-Black, age 12, submitted a poem to River of Words and won the Anacostia Watershed Prize; Olivia's teacher, Anne Atwell Merkel, was a Grand Prize winner in the first ever River of Words Contest in 1996. Anne is the first ROW winner who has grown up to guide her students, the next generation, to explore their watershed through creating personal, environmental poetry.

But the story doesn't stop there. Anne Atwell Merkel's mother, Nancie Atwell, was named River of Words Teacher of the Year in 2010, and in 2013, four of Nancie's Center for Teaching and Learning students were selected as finalists in 2013. That year, when Nancie retired from the classroom, Anne was hired to teach in that same position. This story of two generations of teachers, a mother and daughter, passing down their legacy of environmental literacy is truly inspiring.

I Believe

I believe in gray days, itchy knee-high grass,
wool sweaters, overgrown paths, sips of vinegar,
dandelions bursting from the earth,
the birds that called back, cold bitter coffee,
the stale odor of basements, raging rivers, musty books,
the white caps in the bay, cool wings blowing from
the south, long walks accompanied by the wind,
the two-trunked tree in the side yard, the few precious
minutes before sunset, unevently stacked wood, fallen trees,
mossy rocks, gravel roads that end, slow-moving cars,
deep exhales of the mountain air, neatly-trimmed rose bushes,
cold showers, old men parked in their lawn chairs.
That some day life will live up to its enourmous expectations.

Theodore Matel, age 13
Edgecomb, Maine
Center for Teaching and Learning
Teacher: Anne Atwell-McLeod