Greening Our Classrooms
By: Stephanie Benney
Can you remember way back when you were a little kid in grade school? Can you remember that feeling you would get the night before the first day of the new school year? What was your favorite class? Your favorite teacher? Your favorite grade? Some of us remember making lifelong friends or developing our first crush on the boy two desks up, while others remember agonizing over math homework and not enough recess after lunch.
I attended a Catholic grade school in Wexford and every year we would celebrate “Catholic Schools Week” . Each grade would put on a play or some kind of performance. I played Dorothy one year in the “Wizard of Oz” and then one of the evil step-sisters in “Cinderella” another. This was something I looked forward to each year and turned out to be some of the fondest memories I have of my childhood school years. Of course, I can’t leave out our annual field trips art projects and “Kickball Fridays”.
Summer is coming to a fast close and the kids are beginning to fall into the structure of their scholastic schedules and routines. Even though I do not have children, I still get a smile out of watching the kids run off of the school bus donning backpacks that are almost as big as they are. Earlier this week, as I saw my little neighbor girl get off of her bus, I began to think about how much things have changed since I was the one running off of that bus.
Kids are observant and they are most definitely going to notice how their parents and adults close in their lives treat the Earth. We are setting an example everyday to kids we may not even realize are watching. While it is important for parents especially to positively influence their children, it is also important for all members of the community.
Sustainability in the classroom is something that should be of massive importance to parents, teachers and the community. Kids spend about half of their waking day at school. In order to continue what our children are being taught about sustainability at home, we must make sure it is part of the curriculum in our school system. Consider these tips in greening your child’s classroom.
The best way to find out what exactly is going on in your child’s classroom is by getting involved. Join PTA and speak with teachers about any sustainability programs being used. If there are none, use this as opportunity to set one motion. Organize a recycling program or an Earth and Sustainability Fair. Proposition local businesses to underwrite or be a part of the fair to show an example of community stewardship.
Most kids in the United States get dropped off and picked up from school by their parents. Encourage your children to take the bus. Not only will you be saving money at the gas pump every week, you will be teaching your child about mass transit, which will benefit them as an adult. If you live within walking distance to the school, by all means use your tennis shoes to make sure your child gets to and from school. If it is absolutely necessary to drive, arrange a neighborhood carpool to save on fuel and pollution.
School board meetings are usually public, so make the most of it by expressing your concerns and ideas. Find out what your school is doing about energy efficiency. If your school is new, are they following LEED guidelines? What about fuel efficiency of your district’s buses? These are all great questions to ask and the perfect opportunity to further develop sustainability programs in your schools and your community.
I wish everyone a happy, fun-filled school year and lots of A’s!
Stephanie Benney is a “Sustainable Visionary” and also the new Pittsburgh Representative for Fuzed Marketing, where she helps companies increase their brand presence. firstname.lastname@example.org