2019 School Committee Question 1

1. Can you share any relevant background or accomplishments you have in the area of environmental sustainability?

Please note: The responses from those who accepted our invitation to answer in writing are listed alphabetically.

Margaret Albright  |  Ruth Goldman Emily Prenner | Galina Rosenblit  |  Kathy Shields

Margaret Albright

As a school committee member I have actively participated in Safe Routes to School Newton activities. I’ve advocated for a far less car-centric approach to school design and redesign pushing a policy of pedestrians and pedestrian safety first.  I serve on the transportation steering group which includes NPS staff, school committee members, city council members, DPW, police and planning.  Through the group we are addressing student safety and the goal of more active transportation and the use of the yellow bus and MBTA.  I will be presenting our work at the Mass Association of School Committees/Mass Association of School Superintendents annual joint conference in November as part of a panel with MassDOT/Safe Routes to School Massachusetts and two other area school districts.

For many years I have served as a first a board member and now an advisor to the Newton Conservators, Newton’s land trust.

Ruth Goldman

My 35 year plus career has been in the environmental and youth development and experiential education fields and I have a long-standing personal commitment to sustainability beginning with my childhood. My parents cultivated in us a strong sense of energy efficiency and not overusing resources. We grew up with one car, took public transit, never had a dryer, kept the heat low, no air conditioning, ate whole foods, composted our food/yard waste and recycled, all practices I continue to this day. My son discovered in school last year that our family’s climate footprint was well below the class/school/Newton average.

Beginning with “no-trace” camping in my time at Outward Bound, I have continued to learn and support environmental justice advocacy and to understand the issues surround a warming climate and the impact on everyone but especially frontline and low income communities of color. I also deeply understand that communities like Newton greatly contribute to climate change – more than our share.

Today, I work at the Merck Family Fund, a small family foundation committed to stopping climate change and revitalizing urban communities to be greener and more resilient for the residents who live there.

Emily Prenner

As a PTO president at the elementary and secondary levels, I worked to ensure there was a school representative to Green Newton, recycling was happening in the building, encouraged all walk to school initiatives and supported green educational activities/clubs. As someone who studied chemistry, I’m also a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and believe in the irrefutable scientific evidence of climate change. I also understand the now-or-never aspect of climate change, and how important it is to educate and empower our kids. Finally, I believe strong partnerships among groups like Green Newton, PTO leaders, students and principals can also help expand a ‘green’ mindset in each individual school.

Galina Rosenblit

I am very familiar with many environmental problems due to my husband’s work. Many steel mills, copper and brass smelters, car battery recycling plants in US and abroad operate today using advanced combustion technologies patented by my husband and equipment fabricated by the company he has founded.

He was also involved in reduction of hazardous pollution from oil refining and in destruction of hazardous wastes. The advanced hazardous waste incinerator utilizing my husband inventions and equipment had been tested and accepted by EPA as the most advanced hazardous waste incinerator destroying 99.9999% of hazardous waste substances.

Although I am not directly involved in this, I spent many hours listening and discussing these issues with my husband to become more of an expert recalling my engineering training.

Due to this acquired knowledge, I understand that keeping our water and air clean is a crucial challenge, which requires substantial expense from industrialized society.  I am very involved in minimization of waste we generate in our homes and have convinced my friends and colleagues to do the same. I have also convinced all around me to practice waste separation to make recycling cleaner and less expensive.

Kathy Shields

As a School Committee member for the past two years, part of my work has been reviewing and drafting new policies for the School Committee.  Along with Margaret Albright, I drafted the new Newton Public Schools recycling policy.  The policy was first suggested by Green Newton because it would be potentially useful in obtaining grant funding.  As a School Committee member, I have also supported the installation of solar panels on school buildings, and have supported sustainability considerations as a member of the school building committees for the preschool and Lincoln-Eliot.  On a personal level, I am a frequent volunteer at my children’s elementary school garden.  Teaching children about gardening practices is a great way to help them think about the importance of caring for our natural resources, and how our own behavior relating to food can have a systemic impact.

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