Washington Educator Receives the NEA Foundation’s Inaugural Green Prize in Public Education
REDMOND, Wash., April 20 /PRNewswire/ — The NEA Foundation presented Mike Town, a high school environmental science teacher at Redmond High School in Redmond, Wash., with its inaugural Green Prize in Public Education, which includes a $25,000 award and national recognition. Town was selected to receive this honor for his Cool School Challenge program and curriculum that has helped students, teachers, and school districts reduce more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in over 150 schools.
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The NEA Foundation created the Green Prize in Public Education to recognize and showcase an outstanding public school educator or program that best advances social and environmental responsibility and improves student learning. Town was the unanimous choice of a prestigious panel of national leaders from the environmental, education, business, and philanthropic sectors. He was nominated for the Green Prize by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), one of nine national environmental organizations nominating educators and programs for the prize.
Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of The NEA Foundation, was joined by Philippe Cousteau, Spokesperson for Discovery Education, Correspondent for Planet Green, and CEO of EarthEcho International, in presenting the Green Prize to Town at an assembly held at his school.
“The guiding philosophy of Mike Town’s Cool School Challenge is that big changes start with small steps. His program provides a simple process that enables students, working together with their teachers, to proactively reduce greenhouse gas emissions of schools, making a world of difference in their own communities,” said Cousteau. “The natural environment is a leading interest of many students and their teachers, but there are few resources to support them. If we truly want to save what my grandfather called our water planet then we must arm youth with the knowledge, skills and tools to take action to do so. Mike Town’s program is a great step toward this.”
Town, a graduate of Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment, and an educator for 25 years, developed the program in 2007. The curriculum, which can be freely downloaded from the Cool School Challenge web site, helps student teams gather data about the carbon footprint of each class and, based on their findings, create an action plan to reduce their impact. The results of this program are evident at his school. Through infrastructure changes and the students’ work, Redmond High School has saved over $30,000 per year in electricity and waste costs and reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by over 200,000 pounds.
By partnering with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Puget Sound Energy, Department of Ecology, Resources, and other organizations, Town has shared the materials and curriculum with educators nationwide through workshops and a web site.
In addition to the success of the Cool School Challenge project, Town has the highest enrollment of an AP Environmental Science class in the state, with approximately half of every of the Redmond High School graduating class taking his course. He has also developed an environmental and design course teaching students about green jobs.
“Not only are his students learning how to apply important math and science principals to solve real world problems, how to think analytically and to work collaboratively, they are also becoming environmental activists and community leaders,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “With the Cool School Challenge and through many other creative techniques, Mike Town has engaged his students in learning and loving science for 25 years. We are proud to recognize him and we are eager to promote and share his work so that more educators can re-create this exciting and important program in classrooms nationwide.”
Through partnerships with national educational organizations, the NEA Foundation plans to share Town’s work with a network of educators and students.
The NEA Foundation released the names of the four national finalists for the Green Prize in Public Education, whose work will also be shared with educators. They are:
- Joyce Bailey, Educator, Head of Global Ecology House, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Md.;
- Gioya De Souza-Fennelly, Environmental Science Educator, Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, New York, N.Y.;
- Pine Jog Elementary School, The O.W.L. Project (Developing Our World Leaders), West Palm Beach, Fla.; and
- Susan Vincent, Educator, Piermont Marsh Research Project, The Young Women’s Leadership School, New York, N.Y.
The NEA Foundation announced that it will award the Green Prize in Public Education again in 2011. Details for the nomination process and the criteria will be released at a later date. To learn more about the Green Prize, to view a video of Mike Town, and for more information about his Cool Schools Challenge, please visit www.neafoundation.org.
The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is an independent public charity created in 1969 and sustained by contributions from educators, corporate sponsors, and other supporters of public education. The Foundation offers grants and programs that support educators’ efforts to close the achievement gaps, increase classroom innovations, provide professional development, and salute excellence in education. Visit neafoundation.org for more information.
CONTACT: Mike Paquette
SOURCE The NEA Foundation