Don Keele Awards

Gayle Haeger is a cauldron of bubbling enthusiasm. Since a small child, she has been passionate about science and the excitement of discovering new things—a passion she passes on every day in her Upper Columbia Academy classroom and wherever she might be in the world.

In 1993, an Alma McKibben Award funded a field trip to Beth Shemesh in Israel, where she worked on a "dig" for two weeks.

In 2001, a Don Keele Award provided the means for an exploratory trip to Peru's Manu Park, a biological reserve deep in the western Amazon basin. There she climbed through a cloud forest on the eastern slope of the Andes and canoed through river channels.

Gayle received another Keele Award in 2005, and in August of that year, went on an expedition to the huge Masai Mara preserve in Kenya. While there, she witnessed firsthand the incredible diversity of wildlife, including an immense wildebeest migration.

"The awards have enabled me to personally see, hear, touch and smell the unique flora and fauna of the world in ways I could never have done on my own," says Gayle. "As a result, I have much more to share that inspires my students and broadens their own outlook on our natural world."

Gayle believes that a healthy curiosity about the world around us is vital to her students. "My greatest enemy is apathy. I want my students to love learning something new, to balance their world of video games and television with the fabulous world God created. And learn to love Him in the process."

And she's not anywhere near slowing down in that aim. Gayle just returned from a field trip spent exploring the Puget Sound with 72 students. One of the most important elements of each day was evening worship around the fire. In the great outdoors, learning about the Creator seems the most natural thing in the world.

July 01, 2008 / Feature