As I concluded my time at the U School, we were setting students up for summer internships in sustainability fields and to sign up for Anna’s summer program where students would be learning about sustainability and fulfilling different tasks in community gardens and around the school. I was also helping students to finish their senior projects where they chose a proposal or a research topic to present to their classmates. Projects ranged from proposing a sustainable clothing business where the student came up with designs and I helped him research materials and other model companies, lesson plans for environmental education, air pollution trends in Philadelphia, and starting a composting program at school. Many of the students were really passionate about their projects and I enjoyed helping them be creative and come up with unique solutions/ideas.
The Forces of Nature club also has continued to meet and started on their anti-littering campaign to help ‘take back the school’ and beautify its grounds. I believe the club will continue into next year.
Overall, I feel that I learned a tremendous amount through the EFS program, Anna Herman, and the students I had the privilege of working with. I saw the challenges of implementing sustainable actions at a high school level and the solutions/methods that were used to counteract these challenges. I also saw that kids do really care about the state of their environment and have such creative ideas on how to combat various types of pollution. I think we were mostly successful in the process the students, teachers, and I agreed upon which was reclaiming the school (and its environment). We were able to receive input from several students on what problems they have with the school in terms of sustainability and social issues and how willing they would be to fix these problems. Many students became interested in a composting program at the school, more involved in the hydroponic systems and outdoor gardens, and actively against littering in the school yard.
Lastly, being able to learn how to execute a ‘process’ rather than a ‘project’ gave me a new perspective on long term problem solving. Dissecting all the parts of said process and how to involve students were especially interesting to me. My experience at the U School was extremely positive and I am thankful for everything that I have learned from the teachers, the students, and all of the EFS staff.