Students from Ehrhardt Elementary and Northampton Elementary received grants from EcoRise for their determination to transform their school environments into spaces with resources that are beneficial to the entire student body.
EcoRise, a non-profit organization that provides schools with a curriculum that emphasizes STEM education, sustainability, exposure to green careers, and 21st-century skills, held an Innovation Showcase at Houston City Hall to celebrate the students who exemplified what it means to be green at their schools.
At Ehrhardt Elementary, “Eco Soldiers” in Stacie Mehaffey’s first-grade classroom were ready to bring beauty into their barren courtyard. These forever learners drew blueprints that would be used to turn a simple idea into a reality at their school.
“We decided to do an Eco-Audit where we looked for public spaces around our campus that weren’t being utilized to their capacity,” Mehaffey said. “The courtyard was definitely a space that could be transformed into something better.”
One student was eager to talk about her class’s plans for the courtyard.
“Right now, the courtyard is very dirty, but we’re going to change it into a garden where kids can learn, grow, and do a lot of things here,” Ehrhardt first-grader Claire Mehaffey said.
“It’s important for us to think about sustainability and being responsible because we all have to learn how to be responsible in life,” Northampton fourth-grader Janice Winston said. “If we learn it earlier, then it will be much easier than if we don’t try at all.”
Northampton’s EcoRise grant winners were dead-set on finding ways to conserve resources, reduce waste, and improve indoor air quality on their campus and at home. Their grant will be used to purchase rain barrels, recycling bins, and plants for their school.
“It’s been pretty eye-opening to see the changes that these kids have already made,” Northampton fourth-grade teacher Lyndsey Hurley said. “They talk to their parents about it—just getting the conversation started. I’m so proud of the hard work, the research they’ve done and their integrity in knowing that they can make a difference at nine and ten years old.”
Both teachers have found their purpose in teaching by watching these learners and leaders blossom.
“The most wonderful part of this whole experience was that the students are demonstrating pride in our community—just wanting to change the world,” Mehaffey said. “I feel like my job as a teacher is to inspire them to do those things, so to have an opportunity to see them start at something and finish it to completion is just an amazing thing.”
Click HERE to watch the Ehrhardt Eco Soldiers’ video submission.