For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2022
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Yonkers, N.Y. – Just in time for Teacher Appreciation Month (May), TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—has announced the results of its national 2022 Teacher Appreciation Contest, and Enrico Fermi School educator Melissa Flores has been named a runner-up. Through assigning students PowerPoint presentations, screening anti-captivity documentaries such as Blackfish, and much more, Flores is helping young people explore the animal issues they’re passionate about—and, along the way, teaching them compassion for all sentient beings.
As the teacher of her school’s Living Environment Science class, Flores weaves in lessons about animal issues whenever she can and encourages her seventh- and eighth-grade students to consider humans’ impact on animals and the environment. When teaching about evolution, she emphasizes the similarities among all sentient beings and includes the film Okja—which examines humans’ animal-based food system—in a unit about genetic manipulation. Her students also give presentations on how fishing decimates the oceans and how the fur industry can spread zoonotic viruses, and they take pen to paper with reflections after watching documentaries like Earthlings, which spotlights animal-abusing industries.
“Whether they’re discussing how marine mammals suffer at SeaWorld or questioning why sentient beings are killed for food, Melissa Flores is teaching her students to think critically about how their actions affect animals,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind is delighted to honor her for inspiring young people to explore our interconnectedness and become champions for all animals.”
Flores is passionate about helping students make the same connection she made when she was 15 and one of her teachers taught her about the cruelty and ineffectiveness of experiments on animals. Now she ensures that her students are well prepared for state science exams—without dissecting dead animals.
In addition to a framed certificate, Flores will receive an animal-friendly gift basket designed especially for teachers.
TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—offers free resources, presentations, lessons, and more to help teachers everywhere add compassion to their curriculum.