Two Montclair Schools Receive Sustainable Jersey

Two Montclair Schools Receive Sustainable Jersey
Posted on 12/15/2015

At left: Donna Drewes, co-director of Sustainable Jersey, Edgemont’s Gloria Lepari, parent Suzanne Aptman and Sean Spiller, NJEA secretary-treasurer.
At right, Mount Hebron’s Dan Taylor (center) accepts grant from Donna Drewes, co-director of Sustainable Jersey and Sean Spiller, NJEA secretary-treasurer.

Edgemont Montessori Elementary School and Mount Hebron Middle School were awarded Sustainable Jersey for Schools small grants funded by the New Jersey Education Association. Edgemont and Renaissance are two of 46 New Jersey schools to receive a grant in the amount of $2,000 to fund a variety of projects including rain gardens, outdoor learning classrooms, a winter greenhouse, an aquaponics system, native habitat gardens, sustainability curricula and more.

“NJEA is proud to work with Sustainable Jersey on this important program that directs resources into our schools,” said NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean Spiller. “It is our job to help create a new generation of engaged citizens and leaders. By emphasizing the value of sustainability, we also help ensure that we leave a better world for our students.”

Edgemont’s proposal was written by Cosmic Studies teacher Gloria Lepari and parent Suzanne Aptman, her co-chair on Edgemont’s Eco-Green Team, wrote the proposal, Clean Water and Air Initiative. “With this grant Edgemont plans to implement an educational program around the environmental benefits of using refillable water bottles instead of single-use drinking vessels and the health and cost benefits drinking water. We plan to purchase equipment to improve access to cleaner drinking water and improve air quality in one area of the school,” said Lepari. “This effort is a wonderful extension of the learning from our 2015 earth month program which focused on protecting the oceans and water in our world and will support efforts to fulfill the Sustainable Jersey for Schools, Access to Clean Water and Indoor Air Quality actions.”

Mount Hebron’s proposal Enrichment Program Through Partnership was coordinated by STEM coordinator Daniel Taylor. The project is centered around strengthening the robotics program at Mount Hebron. “We recently engaged with a Newark-based organization called Bricks4Kidz. Ms. Tara Williams-Harrington came to Mount Hebron over six consecutive weeks to facilitate seminars on the programming of EV3s and the building of robots with Legos,” explained Taylor. “Sixteen students attended the initial with the intent to turn-key the information to other interested and who will be taking the elective class and/or attending after-school activities. The funding to pay for Bricks4Kidz was provided by MSU and the EF Robbins Grant.”

The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant money was used to purchase additional materials needed for the program in an effort to expose more children to the challenge of building/engineering and programming with the Lego EV3s. “Not only will these materials be used during after school programs, but they are also presently being used in an elective class this year for the first time,” said Taylor. “The class is titled Game Creation with Robots. The focus of this new elective is to challenge students to conceptualize and build a game based on the programming of either the Finches or the EV3 robots.”

Sustainable Jersey formed an underwriting partnership with NJEA. In addition to funding this cycle of the grant program, NJEA provides in-kind support through research and technical expertise. NJEA’s leadership and members serve on Sustainable Jersey task forces and over 137 districts and 328 schools are currently participating in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program.

“We know that schools and districts are in the best position to determine the needs for their schools,” said Donna Drewes, who co-directs Sustainable Jersey with Randall Solomon. “These NJEA-funded grants will allow school communities to come together to improve outcomes for students, teachers and the environment. Collaboration is key, and we are proud to have support from important strategic partners like NJEA.”

Proposals were judged by an independent Blue Ribbon Selection Committee. The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grants are intended to help school districts and schools make progress toward a sustainable future in general, and specifically toward Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification.

About Sustainable Jersey for Schools: Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for public schools in New Jersey. It was launched by Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward municipalities and schools as they pursue sustainability programs.

About NJEA: NJEA is the state’s largest association of education professionals, representing nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary teachers, administrators, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, retirees, and students preparing to become teachers.

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