NORTHFIELD — As he looks to retire after 28 years teaching sixth grade at Northfield Elementary School, Jay Loubris said he’ll always remember the excitement and wonder on students’ faces during various science lessons and field trips.
The Northfield Open Space Committee recently recognized Loubris for his years of service, presenting him with the 2019 Citizen Stewardship Award. Committee member Julia Blyth said the award was first given in 2007, and is presented to those “who engage in or promote stewardship of our natural resources, helping to achieve the goals of the Northfield Open Space and Recreation Plan.”
“We are delighted to present the award to Jay Loubris for his work teaching science and fostering love and curiosity for the natural world among his students,” Blyth said.
She said the Open Space Committee was especially interested in Loubris’ work providing field trips for students. Trips include visits to the Boston Museum of Science, whitewater rafting, and programs raising and releasing trout, to name a few.
“We can see that your students and our local ecosystems benefit from your passion for science and care of the natural world,” Blyth said. “The values you work to instill in our young residents is just what we need.”
Loubris was presented with a certificate, and his name was added to a plaque displayed in the lobby of Northfield Town Hall, listing past honorees.
Loubris, 62, is retiring at the end of the coming school year after 28 years teaching sixth-graders at Northfield Elementary, where he also leads the 20-week-long afterschool STEM RAYS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Research Academies for Young Scientists) program for students in grades four through six.
He said the purpose of the STEM RAYS program is “to get students outside as much as possible” to interact with their local environment. As part of STEM RAYS, students annually attend a science program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
A regular classroom program sees students raise and release brook trout. Loubris said the school gets trout eggs from the McLaughlin Fish Hatchery in Belchertown, and students learn to care for the fish and study them as they grow up. Students then release the fish in the Mill Brook, which connects to the Connecticut River.
“They’d learn about the Connecticut River and habitat that’s literally in their backyard,” Loubris said.