2018 Bezos Scholar Educator Crystal King has taught science at West High School in Salt Lake City for over 15 years. She loves instilling curiosity and wonder in her students as they explore the world around them, and, she has mentored her school’s Environmental Club and helped coach young leaders in the Utah Youth Environment Summit. Here, Crystal shares a bit more of her experience as a Bezos Scholar Educator, and her work with the Bezos Family Foundation's program Students Rebuild.
Last May I was approached by Mishka, one of my Environmental Science students to be her adult partner to accompany her to the Aspen Ideas Festival as a Bezos Scholar in June. I had not heard of the Bezos Scholar Program or the Bezos Family Foundation, but now I am so grateful for the opportunity. Through this program, I have had a great year and have met so many amazing individuals, including our hard working students! Our students have amazing ideas about how to make the world a better place, and our job as adults is to listen to their ideas and help them turn those ideas into reality. The Bezos Family Foundation has given me a platform to better support our young people.
As a 2018 Bezos Scholar, Mishka has done an amazing amount of work in planning and organizing many events relating to environmental justice, and her work on Utah Youth Environmental Solutions. We had a social justice panel and a youth environmental summit. She was instrumental in supporting the student climate walk out, and in organizing peaceful dissidence in protesting the selling of Utah public lands. I have seen growth in Mishka, but just as impressive is the growth I have seen in all the other students who have worked with her on these projects. It is amazing to see the students come to a group meeting, brought in by a friend, or stop by out of curiosity and really become a part of something they care about. They start to see how their voices matter, and that their plans can become a movement.
Through my experiences as a Bezos Scholar Educator I was also introduced to Students Rebuild, a platform for educators and students to get involved in meaningful global citizenship projects. By an amazing stroke of fate, I had a group of girls approach me about mentoring an ocean conservation club – which is the core focus of the Students Rebuild Ocean Challenge this year. It has been amazing to me to watch these students develop their passion. Grace and Jenna have really found a home for their service and interests in this project, and through Students Rebuild they have felt like their passion is supported on a global scale. Instead of being two students working alone in land-locked Utah, they are a part of an international group, all working towards ocean conservation. They also were invited to be part of a live webcast with Global Nomads Group and were so excited to be able to interact with other students, knowing that other young people are joined together in making a difference.
I am continually amazed at the privilege I have in being a mentor to these students, but really, I am the adult in age only. These young people are truly the mentors to me.West High Marine Health Ocean Conservation Club artwork created for the Students Rebuild Ocean Challenge.