Local Educator Named PETA’s Teacher of the Year

Stephanie McLaughlin Empowers Kids to Protest, Lobby, Create Animal Rights–Themed Artwork, and More

For Immediate Release:
June 4, 2019

Contact:
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Honolulu – From founding her school’s longstanding animal rights club to equipping students to opt out of animal-dissection exercises and field trips to facilities with captive wild animals, Moanalua High School teacher Stephanie McLaughlin spends every school day teaching young people to show compassion for animals. That’s why TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—has named her the 2019 Teacher of the Year.

As a ninth and 10th grade language arts teacher, McLaughlin regularly finds ways to work animal rights topics into her classes, from addressing the link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans to fostering thoughtful discussions about the suffering that animals endure in captivity. A vegan of 15 years, she screens pro-vegan documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, and she encourages her students to create their own artwork in response to tough animal issues. And she helps them apply their advocacy to the real world: Just recently, the animal rights club hosted a vegan potluck on Earth Day and protested The Kahala Hotel & Resort’s cruel “swim with dolphins” packages. The group has even campaigned senators to pass legislation ending marine mammal captivity. And McLaughlin’s students took the initiative to sign a pledge vowing never to support aquariums or any other businesses that hold marine mammals captive.

“Stephanie McLaughlin is TeachKind’s Teacher of the Year for inspiring her students to be heroes to animals every single day,” says PETA Director of Student Campaigns and Influence Rachelle Owen. “As rates of bullying and teen violence rise, she’s working hard to instill empathy and compassion in her students, which will carry them in good stead throughout their lives.”

McLaughlin will receive a framed certificate as well as one week’s worth of vegan meal ingredients and recipes from Purple Carrot, a weatherproof vegan coat from Baro, a high-quality Dekalb travel duffle bag, and a one-of-a-kind TeachKind tote bag.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group offers free resources, presentations, reading suggestions, and more to help teachers add compassion to their lesson plans.

For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or click here.

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“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