Environmental leadership across the board at HPEDSB

This year we are pleased to welcome schools in Hastings Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) to our growing network. We know that certification takes dedication and perseverance, so we asked the four participating schools (Deseronto PS, Stirling PS, York River PS, Madoc PS) what their motivations were to join the Ontario EcoSchools community.

Reflections from Deseronto Public School

“I worked with Ontario EcoSchools as an assessor last academic year and became familiar with the Ontario EcoSchools program. Seeing first-hand how the program impassioned students and staff around Ontario, I was inspired to engage with the process as a homeroom teacher.

In terms of challenges, collecting curriculum submissions requires organization and support from around the school. Although many teachers are regularly contributing to your program, ensuring that you have all the required documentation can be challenging. I would recommend setting up a central location where teachers can share their lesson plans and evidence of student learning. Another method of data collection is putting your EcoTeam in charge of capturing environmental literacy happening in their classrooms. Students can then approach teachers for lesson outlines and capture evidence themselves.

Communicate well with parents. During our fundraising efforts to create garden boxes for our school, parents stepped forward to donate all the wood and soil required to get started on our project. Parents can be an excellent resource in support of your program.”   

Jana Dumas, EcoTeam Lead Teacher, Deseronto PS

Being involved in the EcoSchools process this year has provided our school with the opportunity to grow our understanding and awareness of the importance of taking care of our environment. In addition, it has provided our students with leadership responsibilities and opportunities within our school.”

Derek Potts, Principal, Deseronto PS

Reflections from Stirling Public School

“We heard about the EcoSchools program through our board representative. It was the perfect opportunity for us this year as we had already decided to have a Stirling Conservation Team and expand our school commitment to make a difference. So, we asked to be signed up!  

There were many highlights from our school’s involvement in the program this year. We started off our year by venturing into our school’s Learning Forest and collecting litter, which evolved into a “no-litter” campaign. We then had a guest speaker visit from Quinte Waste Solutions to help us to better understand the impact of our garbage on the environment. Geocaching with a parent volunteer in the forest was another highlight!  Next, we decided to run a “Go LOCO” (ie., Lights Off, Computers Off) energy saving campaign where we introduced the school to our ‘Energy Hogs’. It was a fun and friendly way to remind us to turn off our lights and monitors!

It has been a real pleasure to be a part of the EcoSchools program. It was a motivating and rewarding opportunity to highlight and celebrate the environmental initiatives at our school.”  

Terri Kirkey, EcoTeam Lead Teacher, Stirling PS

“The EcoSchools program has inspired us to reflect deeply on our school actions to ensure they are not just “one-off” events but a true commitment to environmental initiatives as a part of the everyday learning experiences and in support of our school mission. The clear links between the EcoSchools program and our school improvement goals to develop globally minded learners and leaders have been foundational to our commitment to make a difference.”

Suzanne Cholasta, Principal, Stirling PS

Reflections from York River Public School

“I received an email from our board representative discussing the program. Having previously worked in the Environmental Education sector, this is something that I am very passionate about. Teaching at a rural school, the kids here are often very in tune and aware of our natural surroundings, but do not always have the resources, such as recycling programs, to help them to support this knowledge. We felt that this program would help to educate our students and the wider community on the importance of caring for our environment.

Making a positive impact on the environment doesn’t mean just celebrating it on Earth Day. Of course this is an important event in raising awareness of environmental issues, but the real impact and positive change comes from the daily activities that we choose to take part in. Having these students for six hours a day means that we are able to make a significant impact on their awareness and ability as environmental stewards, by teaching them things like recycling properly, turning off the lights when not in use and using both sides of the paper, just to name a few. Making these efforts every day goes a long way to decreasing our environmental impact and building our students’ environmental knowledge!

It has been an amazing professional opportunity to be a part of the Ontario Ecoschools program this year. It has been rewarding to see students become environmental stewards, and to become leaders in their classrooms. I have also appreciated the tremendous learning opportunity for myself, and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish next year!”

Leigh-Anna Plumpton, EcoTeam Lead Teacher, York River PS

“York River’s participation in the Ontario Ecoschools program has allowed us to continue to build awareness in a number of areas including our energy consumption and conservation, stewardship and ensuring the protection of  the ecosystems within our community.  Our goal is to develop globally minded young people who know the positive impact that they can have locally, nationally and globally.”

Marion Wilson, Principal, York River PS

“We are connected to the environment in many ways. The trees are our lungs, the rivers our blood, what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves. If we protect the environment, we protect us. We must be the guardians of the land or we will fall with it.”

Julie Wilson, EcoTeam student member, York River PS

Reflections from Madoc Public School

“Our board representative informed us about the program, and our Principal thought that this would be a good fit for our school since we have already been involved in many environmental initiatives.  Anytime the principal is approached with a “green” initiative she is always on board. Whether we need time at an assembly or stuff put in a newsletter, she is very supportive. There were some great new ideas that were put into place here at Madoc Public School because of our involvement in Ontario EcoSchools.

For next year my hope is to transform an unused, shaded area in our school yard into an outdoor classroom that all classes both young and old can use.”

Wanda Dicks, EcoTeam Lead Teacher, Madoc PS

“The Ecoschools program helps to raise awareness of the environmental issues concerning our world.  It teaches kids in a fun way to protect the environment.”  

Carter Armstrong, Teacher, Madoc PS

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