Environmentally Educating the Educators

Creating a curriculum to environmentally educate teachers in becoming sustainable role models for students

Photo of Anna Kim
5 6

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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @cnhs.environmental

Date You Started Your Project Started

Environmental Club: 08/10/2016 Environmentally Educating the Educators: 09/24/2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Students and staff at our school are misinformed or uninformed about climate change and other environmental issues, such as recycling. However, they do not need to remain in the dark. Starting with our educators, we can teach the school to become much more environmentally friendly. Our contributions will be part of the solution to climate change and reversing environmental damage, which are the result of careless individuals across the globe.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

As the president of Environmental Club, I plan to make this a club project. The ultimate goal would be to make a shareable curriculum to teach educators how they can create greener classrooms. The curriculum would include topics like sorting recyclables properly, turning off lights, and turning paper assignments digital. We would also get school-specific data on electricity usage and paper consumption to raise awareness among the teachers. This curriculum would be taught at a meeting during school where lunch is provided to encourage teachers to come. The teachers would take this knowledge to the classroom to advocate for proper recycling or to digitize their lesson plans and homework. When each teacher turns their classroom into a positive, green environment, students will then create environmentally-friendly habits they can transfer to home. This curriculum closes the lack of knowledge in overlooked, but important, areas of education like sustainability and ensures a well-rounded education outside of academics for students. The first step in creating a knowledgeable, sustainable society is to educate the teachers because they influence the future generations.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Caring for the environment has been ingrained in every aspect of my life since elementary school. Each week, starting in third grade, the Green Team and I would lug bags of plastic from the cafeteria to the EcoRewards bin. A monthly family bonding activity consisted of volunteering at a retirement home to make rounds and collect all the paper recycling. When I reached high school, I continued to pursue my passions by joining the inaugural Environmental Club. One day, while recycling, we asked our principal if we could move the Abitibi bins closer to the school and he responded with, “So you prefer to be environmentally sound but not physically fit?" Instead of helping us resolve an issue, our principal was ridiculing our hard efforts to make a difference within our community. Ever since that day, I've felt determined to make a greater impact on our school through Environmental Club.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

Whenever I talk about climate change to my peers, I always hear things like, "It doesn't matter because it doesn't affect me." or "I won't be alive when it happens so it's fine." This mindset is harmful and I think the best path for change is social acceptance. Things like sorting recyclables, turning off lights, and using less paper can easily be taught at school by teachers. Once exposed to these actions, the new habits will carry on through the rest of the students' lives.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When teachers join the training, they will enjoy a free lunch, but more importantly, they will be trained on simple methods to make their classrooms more environmentally-friendly and to encourage their students to be green, too. Teachers would also learn of the detrimental effects of climate change. In the end, teachers will enjoy their training and spread environmentally-friendly changes to students and the community through taking different actions within their respective lifestyles. For example, we would educate teachers on what materials are recyclable, and the teachers would give lessons to or remind their students about proper recycling protocol. By ensuring only proper recyclables are placed, the bins will not have sticky bottoms and the single-stream recycling process can smoothly run like it's supposed to.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Education is the root of many changes, and teachers have the power to easily influence students, so we are implementing a foundation for major change in the community starting from our schools. We are also being realistic by starting small so that we can effectively establish environmentally-friendly habits that can eventually spread to the rest of the community. Our impact has huge potential for growth in the future because curricula can easily be digitally shared and affect many lives, unlike many programs or solutions that are temporary.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

It's been 4 years since our school's Environmental Club was founded, and we've already accomplished so much. We started off simply by going around the whole school and collected the paper once every week to recycle. The next year we branched out by adding single-stream bins to each classroom and collecting those every other week. We added recycling in the gymnasium by partnering with PepsiCo's Recycle Rally. Then, we added recycling in the football stadiums. Last year, we had our first Earth Week celebration with different spirit days, a t-shirt sale, a bake sale, an upcycling craft sale, and a plastic-straw free pledge that many students signed. For environmental club, creating a teacher curriculum would be the next step in turning Columbus North into a more environmentally-friendly and well-educated school.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I plan to start with one lunch training session this year, but the club can continue training teachers with new methods and offering new ideas to encourage students every school year in the future. In addition, the program could spread to other schools in the corporation, and club members can travel to those schools to educate teachers. This program would be especially helpful at the elementary schools because if children start early with environmentally friendly habits, they will be more likely to carry those habits through life. This education will instill a core value of care for the environment in the youth of our community. Furthermore, a website can be created where a generalized version of the curriculum is downloaded by others.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Levi Grimm

Hi Anna,
Wow! Your project is great! My school in Ohio in collaboration with JEE Foods is beginning a very similar project, seeing how far you have come is so inspiring, I applaud your work. I am wondering if you have looked into more environmental projects outside of recycling. Such as, rescuing unused cafeteria food, composting, solar, etc. I like your idea on monitoring energy consumption. So often schools look at finances rather than the input from the students and teachers, showing a decrease in consumption related to cost will be very effective. I would recommend looking into the Green Ribbon School award program. The program is hosted by the United States Department of Education, it's basically a blue ribbon school program fort the environment. It may become a motivation for the school and teachers to get on board. Keep up the great work!

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