Dianne Moran’s list of classroom supplies is anything but typical.
Snakes, chinchillas, lizards and chickens join Moran, a former keeper at the St. Louis Zoo—into the classroom at Keeven Elementary School in Hazelwood. The program on this day is “Amazing Creatures,” a popular workshop that introduces a variety of critters to students.
The veteran Springboard to Learning Teaching Partner has been delivering nature and historical programming to St. Louis area-schools for the past 21 years. In total, Moran offers 17 different programs that engage students in learning about wildlife and American history.
“Both areas are just really heartfelt for me,” Moran said. “I’m passionate about living history. I love the past. History has always been a big thing for me, and it’s a big reason I live where I live. Living history is a definite joy.”
Nature and wildlife isn’t just a point of interest for Moran—it’s a part of her everyday life. For the past 28 years, she has made her home on a 105-acre plot of land in Richwoods, Missouri. In addition to being the home of her diverse collection of animals, the town is the resting place of Toussaint Charbonneau, the husband of the Native American guide and explorer, Sacagewea. It was her hometown’s distinction that helped fuel the idea for Moran’s program titled, Lewis and Clark’s Sacagewea.
Her history programs cover topics surrounding everything from Missouri history to the American Revolution. Her work in area classrooms became her focus after completing her career with the St. Louis Zoo, where she worked with area kids in a variety of educational and storytelling programs, in addition to her work as a zookeeper.
“It’s really all about the kids,” Moran said. “They really love animals—a good many of them do—and I love sharing that with them. When I was with the Zoo, I worked with education programs all day long. I feel that I have an old body, but my heart still has the wonder of childhood, and when I see a new animal, I might as well be a seven-year-old myself. I’m still blown away by nature. Springboard has luckily gone along with my passion and that is wonderful. “
Moran’s career with Springboard to Learning has 21 of the organization’s 51 years in serving St. Louis-area youth, and has lauded the effect the organization can have on a diverse population of students.
“I can’t believe the dedication that Springboard to Learning has,” Moran said. “It’s inspiring. The fact that Springboard works for funding to create these learning opportunities for kids from disadvantaged areas is tremendous. A business can do certain things, but it’s the dedication of the people in this organization that makes the difference.”