Lower School News

Environmental Citizenship Program Launches Ambassadorship Role
Jim Morrison, director of student outreach and special projects

Kindergarten associate teacher Carrie Stouffer has been named Nueva’s first lower school environmental citizenship ambassador.

“Environmental citizenship (EC) learning is a valued addition to our already strong learning standards,” Carrie said, “and it lends itself nicely to cross-curricular development.”

The role of the environmental citizenship ambassador evolved from the school’s desire to build strong, responsive, and effective relationships with faculty and division heads in all three divisions.

“The environmental citizenship ambassador role is a critical conduit and amplifier for bidirectional environmental citizenship communication, programming, and community-building,” said outgoing Environmental Center Director Tanja Srebotnjak. “So, the main attribute we are seeking in the EC ambassador role is enthusiasm to help that kind of community to sprout and grow deep roots in all three divisions, every discipline, and among all community members.” 

Carrie seems to be the perfect selection for this new role, as enthusiasm and a deep appreciation for the environment and the capacity of a community to celebrate and care for their environment is central to her worldview.

“In the summer of 2016, I spent six weeks living in the Amazon Rainforest in Northern Peru, just outside of Iquitos,” she said. “The main goal for my time there was to support the community in identifying an area of growth and to find a long-term and sustainable solution to this problem. I spent every day working with the locals and learning from them about their culture and strong connection to the environment.”

Carrie’s experience working and living in Peru solidified her strong connection to environmental citizenship—one rooted in the power of community.

“Our earth is abundant with differing experiences,” Carrie shared. “It is our job as citizens of this planet to share what we have and to help advocate for everyone's access to opportunity by working and learning together.”

Carrie’s work will center on the following goals:

  • Supporting teachers in each division to develop, test, and integrate EC into their curriculum and lessons
  • Supporting student groups engaged in EC activities in each division
  • Working with the EC team on division-specific parent education and engagement activities, as well as broader outreach such as STEM Fair and STEAM Expo
  • Soliciting EC-related initiatives and ideas from students, faculty, staff, and parents
  • Helping to facilitate summer EC professional development
  • Facilitating campus sustainability projects in the lower school, likely in conjunction with facilities, faculty, students, parents, and other staff

While Carrie’s role will be limited in scope to the lower school, the hope is that there will soon be ambassadors at each division.

“We are piloting the role with the lower school and hope that it proves valuable and successful so that we can expand it to middle and upper school,” Tanja explained. “The role would be similar across all three divisions but the actual projects the ambassadors work on will vary based on divisional needs.”

“Environmental citizenship is a large tent that not only welcomes but requires a diversity of interests, perspectives, and backgrounds,” Tanja added. “At its core it’s about fostering an environmentally aware and literate community that through its individual and collective actions can make positive impacts on the environment and people’s relationship to the environment.”

Carrie is eager to connect with the lower school community. Recognizing that her colleagues, lower school students, and families all share a strong connection to both the beauty of the natural world and the incredible nature spaces on our Hillsborough campus.

“Since most of my time is spent in my own classroom, I don't always know what other activities classes are embarking on,” Carrie said. “I strive to have this be a collaborative role, and I am eager to work with others. If members of the community have any ideas they would like to share with me and see implemented, do not hesitate to reach out!”

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