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UFT Green Schools Committee meeting: Sustainability starts at school

 

At its Dec. 15 meeting at UFT headquarters, the UFT Green Schools Committee heard from members, the Department of Education’s Sustainability Committee and other green organizations. They made plans to create curriculum for teachers who want to celebrate Earth Day with their classes, and heard from guest speakers that included John Shea, DOE chief executive officer of the Division of School Facilities and Ozgem Ornektekin, DOE DSF director of sustainability, who provided an overview of the DOE’s sustainability programs. The Green Schools Alliance also made a presentation. Attendees shared information about what’s going on in their schools and made plans for the future. “We’d like public schools in New York City to be a model of sustainability. It will take a lot of work, but people are poised to make that happen,” said Coquille Houshour (far left), co-founder of the UFT Green Schools Committee and a teacher at MS 113 in Brooklyn. In less than two years, the committee has jumped to 800 members, moved the DOE to create its Sustainability Committee and has much more on its agenda. “We hear from members about schools with amazing things like greening rooftops, composting programs and solar panels, which seem so futuristic,” Houshour said. “It’s exciting, and we’d like to see it happen in every school!” Committee co-founder Micki Josi (standing, right) came with three enthusiastic students from her school, Green School: An Academy for Environmental Careers, in Brooklyn. “The kids were proud to be there,” Josi said. “One of them, Jennifer Aliceda, told me she felt important being there, and hearing about sustainability.” Karen Ranney, also known as the “Queen of Green,” is the sustainability coordinator (a voluntary position) at her school, PS 372 in Brooklyn. She spoke about a perceived problem that, even in schools that separate and recycle their waste, there is a fear that custodians are just throwing all the trash out together. John Shea, of the DOE, said that was important feedback for him to hear and follow up on. Interested in joining the Green Schools Committee? Contact uftgreenschools@uft.org. There are subgroups for recycling and waste, compost and gardening, school food, SOS (Styrofoam Out of Schools), environmental education and sustainable energy.

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