Waste audits, pollinator gardens, and bird feeders, oh my!
Eighth grade teacher Claire Gulliver has stopped at nothing to greenify her school over the past decade – and those efforts recently earned her recognition from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
Gulliver, who retired from teaching at Jack Chamber Public School in London this spring, was given ETFO’s Environmental Education Award for building environmental stewardship among students.
An advocate for environmental-based learning experiences in all grades, Gulliver said even kindergarten students at her old school have learned how to compost.
“In the younger grades, it’s just kind of fun. Sometimes they get to go outside, sometimes they get to plant trees,” she explained.
“But as they get older, by the time they’re in Grades 7 and 8, they’re invested. They want to help out. They want to compost. They want to make sure things are going in the right waste receptacle, and that trees are being looked after. They’re pretty aware.”
Gulliver’s Grade 8 students have volunteered to collect the school’s compost and conduct waste audits.
A lengthy list of environmental-related accolades for Gulliver and her classes include placing in a Parks Canada contest; winning in a Toronto film festival with a class-created water documentary; and helping Jack Chambers earn a platinum certification through the Ontario EcoSchools program.
In a statement, ETFO president Sam Hammond commended Gulliver for volunteering her time to create and lead activities that taught kids about the environment at their school and the surrounding area.
“She has created fantastic ways for students to develop life-long stewardship of their natural surroundings,” said Hammond.
Gulliver believes students have to know “right from the get-go” what is being done to the planet, and what is being done to the local environment.
When asked how she deals with tough questions about where Earth is headed, Gulliver said there needs to be a measure of reality versus positivity.
“We can look forward to doing things well, and we can improve things,” she said.
“And kids can help.”