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Rhonda Rackley: Creating One Environmentalist One Class at a Time

Dr. Rhonda Rackley has received numerous accolades and degrees: Bachelor of Science from Oral Roberts University, Master’s Degree of Science from the University of West Georgia, Education Specialist degree from Georgia State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. She first began teaching 9th grade Physical Science and 10th grade Biology in 1993.

Dr. Rackley is currently an AP Environmental Science and AP Biology teacher at the Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology. Anyone who has a conversation about the Earth’s environmental problems with Dr. Rackley knows how motivated she is to save our Mother Earth; however, she admits that she was not always aware of the heavy impact humans were having on our planet.

When she was younger, Rhonda Rackley, like many of us, knew that littering was wrong and that we should all work to “Keep America Beautiful.” However, over the years, she realized the real underlying gravity of the globe’s environmental problems. She states that her current views on environmental problems are “an understanding that the human family has to work together if anything substantive is going to be accomplished.”

Dr. Rackley decided to teach AP Environmental Science because she enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of it. On the first week in AP Environmental Science, students learn about the different subjects that are connected to environmental science. Some connected subjects are more obvious, such as Biology; however, Environmental Science and Environmental Studies can have a great impact on economics and literature as well.

Dr. Rackley’s teaching style and approach to the subject has had positive impact on her students. Dr. Rackley states that after taking the course, students “feel more empowered to make a difference” whether it be switching to LED lights or finding ways to conserve water and electricity. Even students who have only been in her class for three months have noticed changes in their views on today’s environmental concerns.

Currently, students are working on a semester project that allows them to learn more about specific concerns in their environment and discover ways to implement change. GSMST senior, Taj Lowe, has become more aware of the specific issues concerning the environment such as the growing impact humans have nutrient cycles, such as the carbon cycle, and plans to use his semester project to plant more trees and combat the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Similar to the positive impact Dr. Rackley’s teaching have on her students, her students will have a substantial impact on earth’s environment that will lead to a promising future for all.

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Rhonda Rackley
Taj Lowe