By WECT Staff | April 29, 2021 at 11:11 AM EDT – Updated April 29 at 11:24 AM
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – The woman who founded a nationally recognized marine science program at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School is retiring after 20 years on the job.
Ann “Cissie” Brooks is passionate about the ocean and has shared her love of marine life with hundreds of young students over the years. The elementary marine science program she created at the school is the only program of its kind in this region.
Students in her care kayak and fish in the waterway outside of their school, learn about different kinds of marine animals, dig for shark teeth, and pick up trash on the nearby beach. Brooks is well-loved at Wrightsville Beach Elementary, so much so that some students at the elementary school cried about her pending departure.
On Earth Day earlier this month, The U.S. Department of Education released the names of the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. Wrightsville Beach Elementary was one of four schools and districts in North Carolina to receive this honor, thanks to the marine science program. Two other Wilmington schools, D.C. Virgo Elementary and UNC-Wilmington also received this distinction. The award recognizes schools for their efforts to reduce environmental impact, improve health and wellness and ensure effective sustainability education.
With 271 students in grades kindergarten through 5th grade, Wrightsville Beach Elementary uses its natural surroundings to enhance student learning. The marine science program plays a significant role in the culture of the school with life lessons of citizenship, team building, problem solving and responsibility embedded in the program.
This week, the school named the pier that students fish and launch kayaks from in Brooks’ honor. During a speech honoring Brooks on Tuesday, Principal Jackson Norvell assured Brooks and the audience that the marine science program she worked so hard to develop would continue after her retirement.
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