GOSHEN — The Goshen School Board is hosting a reception this Monday to honor Goshen High School teacher Carl Weaver for his 40 years thus far with the school’s marine biology program.
The reception will be at 5:45 p.m. at the Goshen Community Schools administration building, 613 E. Purl St., Goshen, before the Goshen School Board meeting at 6 p.m., also in the administration building.
Cookies and punch will be served at a reception and any past or present marine biology students are invited to attend to help honor Weaver. Attendees are encouraged to bring photos and news clippings, according to information from the school.
Weaver wrote in an email that he’s starting his “second 40 years!”
Here’s more about the marine biology program from Weaver.
WHAT IS THE GOSHEN HIGH SCHOOL MARINE BIOLOGY PROGRAM?
Goshen’s marine biology course is a one-semester, credited course that includes about 15 hours of instruction in Goshen and eight days of study in the Florida Keys each spring break.
The local classes “set the tone for the trip, make clear the academic and behavioral expectations of the students, prepare the students for the kind of intensive study they will be involved in and give the students a lesson in precautions in marine study,” Weaver said.
Students who sign up for multiple years of the program can be involved in research projects and introduced to marine biologists at various locations in the Florida Keys, including the Turtle Hospital, The Keys Marine Lab and the underwater lab at Key Largo, Weaver said.
The course not only includes “science serious students” from Goshen High School, but from other schools as well, Weaver said. Five or six Goshen biology teachers also go along, as do other adult chaperones and their children.
“And so the trip has evolved into an inter-generational experience, which has been a very positive thing,” Weaver said. “This year, for example, we had 40 students, 45 adult chaperones and 28 of their children.”
HOW DID THE PROGRAM START?
Weaver had taken a three-week marine biology course through Goshen College in 1968. “It was absolutely the best educational experience that I had ever been a part of,” he said.
After telling a biology class he was teaching at the high school about the experience a few years later, they encouraged him to start a similar trip for high school students.
He started the high school’s program in the 1973-74 school year, writing the course’s objectives and a curriculum outline with the help of that biology class.
“After receiving Goshen School Board approval for the first GHS field trip out of the state of Indiana, we headed to the Florida Keys,” he said.
HOW HAS THE PROGRAM CHANGED THROUGH THE YEARS?
Through the years, the high school’s marine biology program has grown to include more students, more adults, more days in Florida and more instructors helping Weaver organize and lead the trip.
The trip is now also a cooperative effort with Goshen College, studying at the J.N. Roth Marine Lab, owned and operated by the college, Weaver said.
The cost of the trip has increased, but organizers have developed a financial aid program to help students and families. Through the 40 years of the program, approximately $250,000 in financial aid has been given by individuals and businesses in the Goshen area, Weaver said.
He’s also been able to see the area they study change.
“The water quality of the ocean has deteriorated and we have seen a change in marine life as a result,” he said.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE MARINE BIOLOGY PROGRAM?
Weaver said he has calculated the number of hours he has spent in a Cardinal bus because of the trip. It comes out to three months of his life, he said, but it’s time through which he’s learned a lot from his students and the groups that head to Florida.
“If you set the standards and expectations high and you are willing to place your trust in students, they will deliver in just about all situations,” he said.
The students have taught him far more than he has taught them, he said. “When a group of people come together for a common purpose, a tremendous amount of work and learning can take place,” he said. At the same time, “group dynamics make every year of marine biology a unique experience!”
He’s also realized how experiential education is the best learning environment possible and that students eat better during their week in Florida, preparing all their own meals, than they do at home.