In addition to educating Dobbs Ferry students for almost two decades, Ellyce Cavanaugh has also dedicated her career to helping students understand the wonder and importance of nature.
Cavanaugh, who has been an English Language Learners (ELL) teacher in the Dobbs Ferry School District for the last 17 years, was recently awarded with the “Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence.
“I’ve never won an award for my work before, and so I was totally surprised and extremely honored by my selection,” said Cavanaugh, who teaches at Springhurst Elementary School.
When the Village’s Dobbs Ferry Energy Task Force solicited nominations for the award, many Springhurst parents submitted Cavanaugh’s name.
“One parent commented, ‘All I can think about when I think of her is a wood nymph or tree sprite or some such Greek mythological nature goddess,’” said Springhurst Principal Julia Drake. “I am so pleased for Ellyce. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition and honor.”
- Helped create a self-sustaining organic garden at Springhurst, the recently had an irrigation system added to it
- Establish the annual of the garden’s planting and harvesting of carrots, onion, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, butternut squash, beans, Swiss chard with parents and students
- Coordinates the annual Harvest Soup Day, where all Springhurst students eat vegetarian soup made from the garden’s organic vegetables
- Started the Ecology Club at Springhurst four years ago, a second club had to be added to accommodate the number of students
- The club has been responsible for getting students and staff members to recycle juice pouches, and provide classroom recycling bins, and starting other “green school” initiatives
- Has celebrated Earth Day at school for the last 17 years
- Has led several school trips to the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye
“Ellyce has been a driving force in our school, and district-wide, in our efforts to go green,” said Drake. “We congratulate her on this wonderful tribute and her many accomplishments.”
Cavanaugh, who aspired to create a nature trail at Springhurst, attended the first Earth Day celebration in New York City in 1970 and has been interested in the environment since her daughter Sara was 4-years-old. Cavanaugh, who started Free Spirit Nature Camp in Warwick, is a member of the Westchester Green Schools Coalition and has been, is a training Westchester County Volunteer in the Parks
“The most meaningful part of being recognized, however, is that my passion for the environment and going green has been validated. This gives me renewed energy to continue my work and raise awareness about these very important environmental issues.”