For much of his life, Edward Gravlin has held a passion for the earth, its mountains, streams, birds and other wildlife.

And he’s tried to nurture that feeling in others.

So when the 39-year-old Gravlin, an environmental-science teacher at Taegu American High School in South Korea, was named recently as the Department of Defense Dependents-Korea Teacher of the Year, he talked about that effort.

“Throughout my career, I have sought to teach children by helping them to see the world around them in a different way,” said Gravlin, who teaches grades nine to 12 at the school on the Army’s Camp George. “If I can show them the value and beauty of the natural world, they will fight to protect and manage it.”

An ardent advocate of outdoor education, Gravlin has led students through stream surveys, soil-habitat investigations and the identification of local species in their area.

He’s also taken students to the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, a Far East event that allows them to bring their research projects before a panel of distinguished judges.

Gravlin holds bachelor’s degrees in history and biology from Troy State University. He also earned a master’s in biology education at the school.

He knows he won’t reach all the pupils he’s taught, but thinks that because of his efforts, “many young people have come to appreciate nature, and will fight to protect and manage it.” He considers that his greatest accomplishment.

Students, he said, “will not internalize what they have learned unless they see a reason to claim ownership of this knowledge.”

He hopes students will recall the spirit of scientific inquiry and retain a curiosity about the world years after they’ve left his classrooms.

Taegu American Principal Ray Paulson called Gravlin “a capable, hard-working, caring, dedicated teacher who is a tremendous asset to our school. It is difficult to find teachers with his teaching talent, ambition and drive.”

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