Teacher's spirit kept alive through a sea turtle project at Texas A&M

Second graders at Greens Prairie Elementary name a research turtle after a beloved teacher who died of cancer.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas— Saying goodbye is never easy.

When a College Station elementary school lost one of their most-loved teachers to cancer, they wanted to find a way to carry on her legacy.

“It was hard for us all to say goodbye to her,” said Sara Lake, a second-grade teacher at Greens Prairie Elementary School.

Lake is talking about her friend and colleague, Susan Wells who lost her life to cancer a few years ago.

Wells had an impact on all who knew her at Greens Prairie and Lake wanted to keep her legacy alive.

“She was really on my mind, and I thought how neat it would be to name this turtle, any turtle, any Susan,” Lake recalled.

So, that’s exactly what she did.

Lake learned about a program where marine biologists with Texas A&M were studying sea turtles off the coast of Costa Rica, and inviting local schools to name one of the creatures.

Christine Figgener is working on her PhD at A&M and has been a lead researcher on this project.

“We are using satellite tracks that connect with a satellite system to see where the turtles that are nesting are in Costa Rica go after they’re done nesting,” explained Figgener.

Students in Lake’s second-grade class follow Susan every day through an online program that allows users to track her journey.

Figgener has been working with sea turtles for a decade and hopes this project spreads a message.

“When they walk out into the big world they take habits with them that may be a little bit healthier for our planet and especially for our ocean,” said Figgener.

One that not only connects children to nature, but teaches a valuable lesson in and out of the classroom.

“It’s a way to teach them that we can still celebrate someone,” said Lake.

As the waves carried Susan back out into the ocean, she brought with her the memory of a favorite teacher, one that will live on in the vast openness of the big, blue sea.

 

If you want to follow Susan and other turtles, go to www.ocearch.org or learn more about the project at http://plotkinlabtamu.wixsite.com/plotkinlab/news.

© 2017 KAGS-TV


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