Thursday, November 17, 2011

Checking in with Phoebe

On August 8th I introduced you to the BPS Green School Fellow Phoebe Beierle. Recently, I checked in with her to see what has happened since our last interview.

Phoebe has worked on projects with partner organizations such as Green Streets Initiative, Alliance for Climate Education, Learning By Design and many more. She noted that many initiatives have been taking place to “green” BPS schools – everything from promoting walking and riding to school to incorporating hands-on environmental curriculum to improving recycling programs. I learned from Phoebe that this year alone, Boston has had the following success around green schools and environmental education:

1. The Boston Green Academy opened its doors as the first school in the district to integrate concepts of economic, environmental and social equity in its curriculum.

2. The Recycling Committee is working with schools to set up better recycling systems. The Committee has re-engaged Recycling Coordinators from the Nathan Hale, Haley, Hernandez, Kenny, Russell, Warren Prescott, Young Achievers, Edison, Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, Adams, Dorchester Academy, Mather, Mission Hill, Everret, Trotter, Henderson, Mason, Tobin, Ohenberger, Phillbreck, and Greenwood schools- with hopes of getting representation from all 120 schools!

3. The Green Schools Fellow received a $2,000 grant to implement a hands-on unit focusing on appliance energy usage. The unit is being piloted at Boston Latin School and other schools across the state.

4. Boston Latin School’s YouthCAN group provided environmental literacy professional development services for 50 teachers and was the first public school in the country to receive the prestigious Eco Schools USA Green Flag Award

5. The facilities department learned that it saved the district around $75,000 in energy costs last year by installing occupancy light sensors (the lights turn on only when there is someone in the room) in 19 schools.

6. Green Streets Initiative received a $15,000 grant and is working collaboratively with Safe Routes to Schools and the BPS Health & Wellness department to encourage students, staff and parents to walk and ride (bikes or public transport) to school.

As you can see there are exciting green work happening in our schools, but much more can be done. “On average ‘greening’ our schools can save $100,000/yr on operating costs, which is enough money to pay for up to two teachers, 200 computers or 5,000 textbooks!” Phoebe said. If you’re inspired to take steps to green your classroom, check out these 11 tips that are based on the Earth Day article published on the Center for Green Schools Blog in 2011

Also, to bring recognition to teachers who have already taken
steps to green their classrooms, the US Green Building council (the organization that is funding the Green Schools Fellowship) and 2041 launched the Coolest Teacher in the World Search and will be selecting one teacher from Boston to attend an expedition to Antarctica from February 27th – March 12th 2012. To take part in this opportunity, Boston teachers must apply by November 30th. Application details are here:

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