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Oct 01, 2018

St. Stephen's Wilderness Teacher Honored by Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School is pleased to announce that Charlton Perry, Middle School history teacher and director of the school’s Devil's Canyon Wilderness Program, recently was honored as an outstanding educator during the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center's 11th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature Awards Dinner.

 Perry received the Westcave Award for Enduring Dedication for teaching students to live sustainably and find a deep and rich connection with nature.He was one of four honorees recognized during the annual celebration dinner, which was held on Sept. 20, 2018, at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin. Award winners were honored for providing the most innovative and successful initiatives in Central Texas to get children out into nature.

“For more than 20 years, Charlton has been an innovator at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School,” said Evan Smith, editor of The Texas Tribune, who served as master of ceremonies. “He teaches in the history department and runs the Devil’s Canyon Wilderness Program, where students go mountain biking, caving, canoeing and rock climbing. Additionally, he plans trips to Mustang Island for the 7th graders, and heads way out West with the 8th graders for adventures in Big Bend.

“Throughout the year, Charlton also organizes conservation work projects with the city for students to engage in restoration of local parks and preserves,” Smith continued. “Through these wilderness-based activities he has developed, Charlton has led kids to learn self-confidence, trust, cooperation, leadership skills and teamwork.

“Middle school is a critical time for youth to build social skills and engage in challenges that help them lift up their voice and test assumptions,” Smith added. “Charlton provides those opportunities through his uniquely designed curriculum and experiential learning. Additionally, he works on the St. Stephen’s campus committee to build partnerships and share best practices to improve the quality of life on campus through a strong connection with nature. He sets a great example for his kids to live sustainably and to find a deep and rich connection with nature.”

Following the awards program, St. Stephen’s Head of School Chris Gunnin noted that Perry’s efforts to involve students in the natural world are instrumental in sparking a lifetime interest in outdoor programs, environmental science and wildlife preservation. “Most childhood activities today occur indoors and are not truly active,” Gunnin said. “Many children today spend their free time focused on computer screens, exploring animated worlds. A truly outstanding outdoor educator, Charlton involves children in the natural world by creating programs that engage them physically, mentally and emotionally, which results in better overall health and, equally important, happy kids.”

The full St. Stephen’s community celebrates this great honor with Perry, who enriches our school with his great devotion to and love for the Earth and all its beings.