Sustainability graduate student hopes to instill curriculum at elementary school level

Betsy Ruhe 2016 (UofL's 1st Masters in Sustainability student)Betsy Ruhe is one of UofL’s first students in the master’s of sustainability program.

Ruhe, who enrolled last fall, is currently on educational leave from JCPS, where she’s served as a special education teacher at Indian Trail for the past 16 years. She never wanted to be a teacher, especially since so many members of her family were teachers.

But she realized that she was actually teaching as part of her retail job, which spanned 20 years.

“I was selling sporting goods, and I realized I was explaining to people how to use this equipment. I thought that I should maybe get paid to teach,” she said. She began substituting on the side and received her MAT at Bellarmine in 1999.

Sustainability wasn’t even on the curriculum map at that point, but she had it in her and liked the idea of teaching the topic.

“I’ve been bicycling to work since high school, well before it was cool. My logic was always that [cars are] going to run out of gas at some point. But I also enjoy it. I feel a whole lot better doing it,” she said.

Her ultimate goal after receiving her master’s in sustainability is to implement sustainability curriculum in the JCPS district.

“Right now there is a lot of ‘I don’t know how to do that’ discussion. JCPS has a very good science curriculum, but there is only one science lesson taught in kindergarten or fi rst grade that requires you to go outside,” Ruhe said. “If you want people to understand and care about the planet, they have to experience it.”

Source: University of Louisville Magazine, Winter-Spring 2017, p. 43)