February 2012, two lucky teachers will have the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Antarctica as representatives of the Center for Green Schools on a two week expedition with 2041, Ltd. USGBC launched a coast-to-coast search in November 2011 to find the “Coolest Teacher in The World,” a distinction earned through the teachers’ efforts to make their schools healthy, supportive places to teach students about environmental and civic responsibility.
Two teachers were selected through an application process within USGBC’s first two Green Schools Fellowship recipient districts, Boston Public Schools and Sacramento City Unified School District. Through checklists, photos and an essay, the teachers detailed concrete actions to improve their school building and learning environment. The selected two teachers, Kim Williams of Sacramento and Cate Arnold of Boston, will join explorer Robert Swan, O.B.E. and his organization, 2041, on their next Antarctic Expedition, beginning February 27. They will join over ninety other participants from every corner of the globe.
Click on their picture to learn more about them.
Kim Williams is a 6th grade teacher at Washington Elementary in Sacramento City Unified School District. She has been teaching for fifteen years and has consistently led efforts to incorporate environmental awareness into curriculum and everyday activities for students. For the past several years, she has coordinated with local higher education institutions on two initiatives—the RESOURCE and MESA programs—to bring the creativity and expertise of science, engineering and math graduate students and faculty into her school and classroom. She works with University of California at Davis on RESOURCE, a GK-12 Engineering program through the National Science Foundation, and with a joint team from Sacramento State and UC Davis on the MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program. Through her leadership in fostering these programs at Washington Elementary, students have grown their own algae, made mini bioreactors, crafted their own solar cookers, made anemometers, and more.
In order to teach her students where their food comes from, and to provide healthy food choice opportunities, Kim started a school garden in 2010 with the help of an NEA “Green Across America” Grant. The sixth-graders planted their first crops with their “Kinder-Buddies” and shared the harvest with the school salad bar. Kim formalized a student club and registered it as a 4-H Junior Master Gardener Program after students became so inspired that they decided to use their own recess time to work in the garden—an inspiration for which Kim surely set the example!
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Cate Arnold is an 8th grade U.S. History teacher at the Boston Latin School, the nation’s first public school and oldest existing school. In 2007, after she showed her eighth graders An Inconvenient Truth, the students decided to start an after-school climate action club. More than 90 students attended the first meeting, and they named the group BLS Youth CAN (Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network). Cate has been the hard-working faculty advisor for this group ever since. The group’s signature event is an annual climate summit at MIT. She and her students raise funds to pay for this summit each year, leading to five summits that have reached over 2,000 students and educators from more than 200 schools. The students launched an Education for Sustainability Campaign that has trained more than 50 teachers in Massachusetts, as well as a Youth Green Jobs/Audit Training Program. The network now has more than 20 Youth CAN member groups in the Boston area.
The Youth CAN students have also worked within Boston Latin School on several projects from energy, water usage, and zero sort recycling to a recent proposal to install a shared green roof and community learning center. In conjunction with an energy audit from NSTAR, the local utility, students drafted an energy action plan to lower domestic hot water temperatures, turn lights off in vending machines, arrange for computer labs to be off when not in use, and put doorknob hangers in classrooms reminding occupants to turn off lights. Their most recent energy success was a lighting retrofit that is saving the City of Boston $33,000 each year. Students worked for a year to get the retrofit implemented, meeting regularly with administrative and facilities staff. The group was featured on the Today Show and recognized with numerous awards, including the President's Environmental Youth Award. Boston Latin School Youth CAN, led by Cate’s tireless energy and dedication, is one of the go-to sources for integrating education for sustainability and offering a road map for how schools can go green in the Greater Boston area.
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