We’ve chosen the winner and runners-up to this year’s TeachKind Teacher Appreciation contest! We were overwhelmed by the number of inspiring entrants we received, but as you’ll see, these four educators truly stand out for their dedication and great work teaching students about animal rights. They’ve shown compassion in and out of the classroom and have inspired their students and communities to extend their kindness to animals.
Meet these compassionate TeachKind teachers:
Mary Ryan, Copper Beech Elementary School, Glenside, Pennsylvania
Fifth-grade teacher Mary Ryan truly goes above and beyond when it comes to humane education. As the leader of her school’s KIND Club, Mary helps her students take action on important animal rights issues by writing letters, making posters, volunteering at local adoption centers, and hosting fundraisers to raise money and collect items for animals in need. Every Monday, Mary hosts a Meatless Monday lunch in her classroom, where students get together to sample new vegan foods, learn about factory farming, and swap recipes. They’re even working to make more vegan options available in the cafeteria!
This year, Mary hosted a vegan food sampling at her school’s Spring Fair, giving many students a chance to sample delicious Tofurky sausages and veggies! She also gave a presentation on humane education and its benefits to her school’s parent-teacher association and continues to write a monthly column in their newsletter about the KIND Club and animal rights activism.
As if that weren’t fantastic enough, Mary has used her own money to help financially struggling students when they’ve needed to have their animals spayed or neutered. This year alone, Mary helped to ensure that six of her students’ cats got fixed.
Mary is a true superstar for students and animals, and we’re thrilled to honor her as the Teacher Appreciation contest winner!
Cat Hugar, Fedde Middle School, Hawaiian Gardens, California
Dedicated educator Cat is never afraid to speak up for animals! As president of her school’s animal rights group, A Cause for Paws, the seventh- and eighth-grade teacher educates her students on various animal rights issues and has even helped a number of students to go vegan. Thanks to her work, her cafeteria has adopted Meatless Mondays, and she is currently lobbying to expand this into a districtwide initiative. When her school’s biology department planned an animal dissection, Cat spoke out against it and presented the issue to the superintendent. She even brought her principal to see PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk speak in Los Angeles, after which Ingrid visited Fedde Middle School to give a speech on animal rights! Way to go, Cat!
Alicia Weyeneth, Clarence A. Dickison School, Compton, California
Animal lover and longtime vegetarian Alicia is grateful to have a job where she can be a positive influence on the young learners in her fourth-grade class by teaching them to be compassionate to animals. Every year, she uses PETA literature in her classroom and teaches her students about all aspects of animal rights by creating her own animal rights–related lessons and projects. Her students love learning new ways to help animals, and Alicia is open with them about the reasons why she chooses to leave animals out of her diet, often sharing snacks from her own meatless lunch to let students know that plant-based food is kind and delicious! Great job, Alicia!
Jill Tuttle, New Albany High School, New Albany, Ohio
Math teacher Jill isn’t just teaching equations—she’s also teaching compassion! As founder of her school’s Veg*n (vegan and vegetarian) club, she gives her students literature on animal rights issues, shows them documentaries, and shares vegan recipes for them to try. She and the club members have visited an animal rescue sanctuary twice now, and they’re currently working to make more vegan options available in their cafeteria! When her school hosted their Lunch on the Lawn event this year, she made sure several vegetarian restaurants were involved to ensure that all students had healthy and humane options to choose from. Jill has inspired many students to adopt more compassionate lifestyles and even cut meat out of their diets entirely. Keep it up, Jill!
Congratulations to our winner and runners-up! Keep up the great work for animals!
Want to be in the running to win next year’s Teacher Appreciation contest? Get a head start! Touch base with Nina at [email protected] to find out how you, too, can be a TeachKind teacher and start making a difference for animals in your school today.