July 16, 2004
Susan Garcia, seventh grade science teacher at Powell Academy and former professional hydrogeologist, was recently honored for her outstanding efforts to bring alive the science of groundwater for young students.
Garcia was presented the Distinguished Service Award from the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. She involved students in essay and poster contests about the water cycle, brought in water experts for school presentations and organized a field trip to a water treatment plant, a desalination facility and a spreading ground for replenishing groundwater.
For 14 years Garcia worked as a hydrogeologist, making contaminant assessments of property and proposing remediation efforts for businesses and organizations such as UPS and NASA. After being laid off following a downturn in business, she assessed her corporate skills in educating and training clients and put them to use in a north Long Beach classroom. With five years experience at Powell, she remains active in hydrogeology. She is a state registered geologist and certified hydrogeologist and serves as a board member of the Groundwater Resources Association of California.
She believes teaching middle school students gives her maximum opportunity to affect their lives for the better. The subject of groundwater lends itself to showing young students how their own actions in the present can affect their future.
"Whatever happens on the surface impacts what happens to the groundwater, now and in the future," she said. "Just because we’re temporarily using the water now doesn’t mean we should destroy things that might have a big impact on future groundwater. Students can realize that everything is interrelated and that small changes can have big consequences. With groundwater--and with life--I want them to be able to make a benefit/cost analysis, in order to understand consequences and be equipped to make informed decisions."