Suffolk teacher receives Green Star for environmental efforts

Published 7:05 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

As many teachers reward their students with a gold star for a job well done, a Suffolk teacher received a green star for doing good work for the environment.

Each year recognizes 10 teachers in Hampton Roads that go above and beyond to teach their students to have a cleaner and greener impact on the environment. One of these winners is Suffolk’s  Tonya Bangley.

Bagley teaches at King’s Fork High School and is the advisor of the Ecology Club that partners with the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance. She also is a Nansemond River Preservation Water Quality and Oyster Restoration Committee Member.


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“I’m so excited to receive this award,” said Bagley. “It’s not just me; it’s a group effort. I have a special team of students, teachers and community partners who all work together to make these projects happen.”

With the Ecology Club, Bagley has her students do various projects, including oyster restoration efforts and putting in a moist buffer at Sleepy Hole Park. She also equips her high school students to be able to go into the middle schools and teach about the watershed and other environmental science topics. According to Bagley, it’s a win-win situation where the middle schoolers get excited about it from the older students and the high schoolers get a confidence boost in their knowledge.

According to Bagley, this is not an award she got on her own. She acknowledged the many people who help her make these projects a success, including her principal, fellow teachers, the city of Suffolk and the parents.

“What’s cool about the program is the parent involvement,” she said. “When students came for our oyster reef project they brought parents, grandparents and nieces and nephews. It’s truly a group effort.”

Each recipient of the Green Star award gets $1,000 for supplies, resources or to fund a green student-driven initiative. Bagley plans to use the money to help fund an outdoor classroom. This classroom will consist of a greenhouse with various plants that the students will be able to take care of and learn from throughout the whole year. This project was delayed due to COVID-19, but she hopes this grant money will make this project a reality.

“We have a ton of support from Suffolk and King’s Fork,” said Bagley. “Everyone works together and gets along really well, and it’s a thing to be recognized. I’m super thankful.”