Charleston Woman Earns Top Honors in PETA’s National Teacher Contest

Seventh-Grade Instructor Brings Lessons of Kindness to Animals Into the Classroom Every Day

For Immediate Release:
June 5, 2014

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Charleston, S.C. – From focusing on the importance of having cats and dogs spayed and neutered to talking to the kids about the benefits of going vegan to teaching them to respect the environment, West Ashley Middle School seventh-grader teacher Samantha Gentrup goes above and beyondfor her students every time she walks into the classroom. That’s why TeachKind—PETA’s humane-education division—has named her the 2014 Teacher of the Year.

“Samantha Gentrup works tirelessly to teach students compassion, and she believes in the power of humane education as the key to a better future,” says PETA Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “Teaching children to have empathy for animals is an important part of combating school violence and molding kids into caring adults.”

The following is just a small sample of Gentrup’s contributions:

  • Every Monday, she hosts a discussion on humane education issues that often involve animals, such as cruel factory farms, the importance of adopting animals and helping chained dogs, and the environmental damage caused by the meat, egg, and dairy industries.
  • She has her students write persuasive papers on these issues and, at the end of the year, choose one to make into a book.
  • She takes time out of almost every Saturday to take students to volunteer at the local animal shelter, and there’s always a waiting list for kids who want to go.
  • She put together a five-day camp that focuses solely on humane education. It will be held for the first time this summer.
  • She set up a meeting with the school principal to discuss why the circus is the wrong place to take kids who respect the dignity of animals.

TeachKind offers free resources, such as materials, online lesson plans, and even Skype classroom presentations that can help kids learn about helping animals.

For more information, please visit or click here  .


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind