After spending the summer with my Greenpoint Eco-Schools Sustainability Coaches… meeting with partners, training on Education for Sustainability (EfS), learning about the local Greenpoint community, and prepping for Eco-School’s “Pathways to Sustainability” roll-out plans, I was very excited to physically be at PS 34 and finally meet the rest of the staff!
On September 8, teachers and staff reported back to school and for many, it was the first time catching up since summer break. You could feel the warmth and hear the joy of this close-knit community. It was also nice to see the Eco-Teacher Team again, which consists of Ms. Belfiore (1st Grade teacher), Ms. Kubis (Science Teacher), Ms. Marshall (STEM teacher), and Ms. Rzerzicha (4th grade teacher.) They will be the first group to begin embedding EfS into their curriculum. After enjoying some warm bagels, Principal Asselta along with Assistant Principal LoRe held their first faculty meeting of the school year. As they went through the agenda, I was introduced and welcomed to the school.
The first week of school was a short one, but I had the opportunity to attend PS 34’s “Welcome Back to School” picnic for families at McGolrick Park that following Saturday, September 12. The event was hosted by the, mostly new and very enthusiastic, PTA Executive Board: Erica Rahavy (co-president), James Shaneen (co-president), Nishi Bissoondial (treasurer), and Jenny Carrow (secretary). And the glue that ties the PTA with the school is the Parent Coordinator, Deise Kowalski, who is a true gem to work with! GrowNYC provided me with a trivia wheel so I was able to test some of the participants’ knowledge on recycling and our city’s waste. All in all, it was a great turn out and a fun Saturday afternoon getting to know the families of PS 34.
In preparations for the student assemblies on September 16, 17 and 18, I worked diligently with teachers to identify and recruit students for the Eco-Action Green Team. This is an essential part of the Eco-Schools Framework as actions and initiatives need to be student-led. During the assemblies, Ms. Asselta and I announced the integration of our new Eco-theme into PS 34’s already established Character Counts program. Turns out the Character Count’s values tie in naturally with the Eco-Schools’ Pathways to Sustainability. Finally, we announced each class’ Eco-Action Green Team. These will be the first round of students who will be learning about the Consumption and Waste Pathway as well as become the leaders in their classrooms when we begin organics / food scraps collection next month. Imogen, a 3rd grader told her parents, “I like being in the Green Team because I feel like we are saving the world.”
The support of the National Wildlife Federations’s Greenpoint Eco-Schools project is astounding. Nishi Bissoondial, 5th grade parent says, “I am proud to say that I voted for GCEF funds to be distributed to local schools, so am very happy to see that PS 34 is now an Eco-School. Our smaller student body will greatly benefit from the fruits of this program. My daughter, Gittan is excited to part of the Green Team with Ms. Wong.”
I feel very fortunate to be selected as PS 34’s Sustainability Coach and I look forward to working with the Eco-Teacher Team, the Eco-Student Team, as well as with the families, the Eco-Community Team. Together, we will begin to create a legacy of sustainability in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Tina Wong is a Sustainability Coach with the Greenpoint Eco-Schools Program, operated by the National Wildlife Federation.