School Connections urges School Committee to make Climate Education a District Goal

School Connections members wrote together a letter to the Newton School Committee urging that Climate Education is considered a District-Wide Goal. Read the letter below and see PDF version here

The letter was sent on May 8, 2021 to all School Committee members, including Mayor Fuller and Superintendent Fleishman. A copy was also sent to city and school officials: Liam Hurley NPS CFAO), Stephanie Gilman (NPS Director of Planning, Project Management & Sustainability), Eva Thompson (Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education), Toby N. Romer (Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education), Ann Berwick (Newton’s co-Director of Sustainability) and Sunwoo Kahng (Newton’s Sustainable Materials Management Commission Chair). 

 

Please make Climate Education a district-wide goal

Dear School Committee Members, Superintendent Fleishman, Mayor Fuller, 

“Education is an essential element of the global response to climate change. It helps young people understand and address the impact of global warming, encourages changes in their attitudes and behaviour and helps them adapt to climate change-related trends.” – Unesco

The city of Newton has taken an important stance in the fight to stop climate change by committing in 2020 to an ambitious Climate Action Plan (CAP), which calls for substantive decreases in greenhouse gas emissions in the next few years. In a first step toward rapid implementation of the CAP, the City hired an energy coach to help residents adopt cleaner and more sustainable domestic and transportation practices in their personal lives. An important next step is to include the Newton Public Schools in this endeavor

With appropriate resources, district-wide professional development and support, teachers can provide students with a framework in which to begin their practice of a sustainable, climate-protecting lifestyle and ability to engage in climate action as needed. If Climate Education is a district goal, more of our citizenry will be prepared to address the climate crisis and help the city meet the CAP goals.

Climate education is not solely a topic to be addressed by science teachers. The recent long overdue high-profile BLM and other social justice movements has increased awareness of the inequitable impact of climate degradation in different communities. As Ibram X. Kendi says in his book discussed in Newton last summer, How to Be an Antiracist, “do-nothing climate policy is racist policy.”  The laudable focus of Newton Public Schools on anti-racism, social equity, human dignity, and social action can easily be viewed through a lens of climate education.  

In 2019, the School Committee supported the inclusion of Sustainability as a district-wide goal and thanks to it NPS now has an active Schools Sustainability Working Group, a new Director of Sustainability and a focus on sustainable facilities and transportation. It is time to be explicit about the inclusion of Climate Education in the district-wide goals.

As the city implements its Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the school district works to improve school facilities, we urge the School Committee to consider the benefits of teaching the entire school community why and how to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the city’s goal of a carbon-neutral Newton by 2050. With the CAP, the City seeks to “equip our residents and businesses with the tools and support needed to make climate-conscious choices that reduce the community’s GHG emissions while also leading by example.” This engagement and education of Newton’s citizens will be even more effective if the schools provided resources and included all of our teachers and students in the discussion. In doing so, we will be grooming the future role models and leaders of the change that will sustain the lives of our younger citizens.

Please support the goals of Newton’s CAP and the needs of the next generation by offering instructional opportunities for students and staff aiming to infuse more climate education into existing curricula. 

Please contact us with further questions at [email protected].

Student Voice: Why we need climate education in our schools

By Ahona Dam, 10th Grader at Newton South High School –

Being a youth leader for the 4C Tree Project and a volunteer intern at Green Newton, I have learned a lot about city initiatives and the importance of trees in our environment. However, I don’t know if I would have been as aware of our planet or our community’s efforts had I not joined Green Newton.

We need climate education in our schools because education is one of the most important ways people can be more aware. I think it is important to explain climate change and its causes in a detailed way to ensure that students understand the rapid changes that are occurring on our planet. Every year in science class we briefly go over climate change however we barely spend a week learning about the causes and effects that climate change has on communities.

Climate education doesn’t have to only be taught in science classes. Climate change has affected so many people around the world and has left some as climate refugees. We can begin to learn more about this in history and understand how certain countries are dealing with climate refugees.

If students aren’t educated about the cause of climate change then they won’t understand how to combat it. With climate education, students will be prepared to have conversations with their parents/relatives and they will feel more comfortable to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. I believe that when there is a global problem, such as climate change, individuals have to be aware and educated in order to understand how to remedy the problem. To solve a problem, we must start small and focus on individuals, then communities, and finally focus on a national scale.

I definitely don’t know everything about climate change, however I want to be able to concretely
understand the science behind greenhouse gas emissions and learn about how climate change is affecting communities around the world. I want to know about specific innovations that have been created. I want to be part of the solution by educating myself on the problem and then take specific actions that will benefit my community.

This essay was presented at the May 10th, 2021 School Committee Meeting as a public comment. 

Climate Education should be a NPS district Goal

If you also believe that Climate Change and its solutions should be more widely discussed and taught at Newton Public Schools, join us on asking the Schools Committee to include Climate Education as a District-Wide Goal in 2021.

We will meet this Thursday, April 15, at 4pm to discuss this and other sustainability and climate related topics. More information here

The School Committee, with NPS’s superintendent and the City’s Mayor, is responsible for deciding each year what goals will guide the work of administrators, faculty, and staff as they “provide high quality academic opportunities for students and create welcoming and supportive school communities.”

In 2019, Green Newton School Connections petitioned for NPS to include Sustainability in schools and the School Committee included the topic in the FY20 Systemwide Goals, initiating the  School Sustainability Working Group and a managerial goal focused on sustainability for facilities and transportation. Following our advocacy,  NPS hired a Director of Planning, Project Management and Sustainability in February 2020. 

Now is time to move on to the next step and include Climate Educations as a systemwide goal.

The city of Newton has committed to dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and even hired an Energy Coach to guide residents in adopting cleaner and more sustainable energy upgrades for their home and transportation. Our students can help!!! They are part of the solution to solve our existential climate crisis – if we give them, and our educators, the necessary tools, support and resources. 

The School Committee will be discussing the 2021-2022 Systemwide Goals in the next months. It’s time for us to ask them to include Climate Education as a goal. 

Join Educators, Parents and Students at the School Connections Meeting

Green Newton’s Schools Connections will meet ONLINE on Thursday, April  15, from 4-5pm. Google Meet link: meet.google.com/enc-hnvv-yms 

Green Newton’s Schools Connections is a forum for parents, students and educators to promote sustainability in the classroom and beyond. You are welcome to participate as we share experiences and ideas that support the implementation of green initiatives in our schools. 

For more information contact: [email protected] or visit www.schools.greennewton.org

May 1st: Covid-19 Tree Memorial Dedication Ceremony

Help us honor our neighbors and loved one lost to the pandemic at the tree memorial 
dedication ceremony on May 1st, at 2pm at the Newton Centre Playground. With remarks by  Mayor Fuller, and others. SAVE THE DATE!

Thanks to the 4C Tree project, which plants trees to commemorate lives lost to Covid-19, schools in Newton will also have the opportunity to have trees planted on their grounds and nearby. Plans are underway for tree planting in the following schools/locations: Mason Rice, NSHS, Ward, Bigelow, Horace Mann, Pierce, Burr and Angier.

Contact [email protected] if you would like to join the project and have trees at your school. 

Spearheaded by Green Newton’s Environmental Youth Leadership Program, the Capture Carbon Commemorate COVID-19 Tree Project (4C Tree Project) hopes to to demonstrate the resilience of our City through difficult times and its commitment to a healthy ecosystem.

 
 
 

Earth Week Celebration with Newton Students Leaders

Green Newton’s All in for Climate Action! campaign is happening on Earth Week  from April 19–22. Come meet the middle, high and college students who are part of the Environmental Youth Leadership Program. Residents will hear how they can take climate action or join the groups who are leading the climate fight in Newton.

Tables will be staffed by students and adult volunteers at Newtonville Star Market on Saturday and Sunday (17 and 18) and also during the week (19-22) at the Newton Free Library. 

There will be posters for kids to color with Take Action! messages. There will be postcard handouts, plus 200 Earth Day packets for residents to plant milkweed seeds for growing butterfly gardens.

● GN Youth leaders will host a virtual poster-making program for kids on 4/19 from 4-5pm.
● Sidewalk chalk art by students will decorate the Comm Ave carriage lane with Take Action messages
● On April 22 at 7pm – Eating a Plant-based Diet – virtual Green Newton program with library.

More information at 

Bike Rodeo for Grades K-6

Newton Parks and Recreation and instructors from MA Safe Routes to Schools to practice bike riding skills on Sunday April 25th.  Registration for this program opens on April 15th at 6:00 pm. through this link: https://newtonma.myrec.com/info/activities/program_details.aspx?ProgramID=30165

Celebrate safe biking in Newton at the Bike Rodeo!  MA Safe Routes to Schools instructors will teach and review bike riding skills.  Volunteers will also help teach fun stations including knowing signs and hand signals, how to care for your bike, and more. 

This program is geared towards students in Kindergarten through 6th grade at Newton Schools that are comfortable riding a bike independently.  Students will be divided into smaller groups to practice and learn different skills and will receive a certificate at the end of the program.

In order to participate:

  • Each child needs to bring their own bike.  Please make sure the bike fits the child and is in usable condition (chain is intact, brakes work, tires are not flat, etc).
  • Each child needs to bring and wear a properly fitting helmet.
  • Each child must have a parent or adult present for the duration of the program.  

Parents/adults will have an opportunity to meet with volunteers from Bike Newton and Newton Safe Routes to Schools to learn more about biking opportunities in Newton. Social distancing and face coverings are required throughout the event.  May 2nd will be a makeup date in case we need to cancel due to bad weather.

Newton Serves Returns

Newton Community Pride, in partnership with the City of Newton, is pleased to announce the return of NewtonSERVES.  

Sunday May 2, 2021
9 am – 4 pm Rain or Shine 

Check out NEWTONSERVES PROJECTS 2021 at Newton Schools: Brown, Countryside, Horace Mann, Mason-Rice, Newton South, Oak Hill, Peirce, Underwood and all over Newton!

Health and safety of our staff and volunteers is our top priority. Strict adherence to the rules and restrictions for the event allow us to enjoy a day of community service while ensuring we remain compliant with COVID protocols.

Register to volunteer here.

Over 1,000 Newton residents come together in typical years to serve Newton to get our parks and open spaces ready for Spring, to spruce up our schools and not for profit institutions and to contribute food to the Newton food pantries.

Spring is the season to walk or bike to school!

As we head into spring and school returns to full time for many, there has never been a better time to walk or bike to school. If you live too far to walk the whole way, consider parking further from the school and walking the last 15 minutes.

Here are some tips from Newton Safe Routes to School:

  • Join with neighbors and others on your route to set up a Walking School Bus.

  • Find your PTO website and join your PTO Directory to connect with others you could walk or bike with.

  • Park & Walk maps identify crossing guard locations, “blue zone” vehicle drop-off areas, and suggested areas to park and walk over to the school.

  • Look for an email from your principal with detailed information on arrival and dismissal procedures. Additional doors will be open to enable physical distancing on the way into school.

  • Check out transportation resources for each of the Newton high schools and middle schools

Walking and biking can boost students’ health, physical activity, and even their concentration in school. Many students will benefit from a chance to move their bodies before entering into a school environment that is more physically structured than before.