School Leadership: Jennifer Berry, Stratford Academy

Dr. Jennifer Berry is the academy principal for the Academy of Science and Engineering at Stratford STEM Magnet School. With Dr. Berry's leadership the Day of Discovery, Biotechnology, and Interdisciplinary Science Research programs have flourished focusing on community involvement and sustainability in their classwork. Students have created a outdoor classroom with solar generated hydroponic system in the student built green house that provides a yearly Farmer's Market event to highlight student work products to the community. I have worked with Dr. Berry for over 10 years and have seen her growth into a leader that focuses on STEM project based learning that incorporates the needs of the community for environmental awareness and support.

Curriculum Enhancement: Nicole Williams, McMurray Middle School

When Ms. Williams heard about the major renovations about to take place at her school, she decided to use the experience to teach her students how to turn a potentially stressful situation into an opportunity to learn how to reduce the impact of the construction on the surrounding environment. Ms. Williams and her team of fifth grade teachers used project-based learning to incorporate the science, math, and reading/language arts standards of study in a real-world application. The students used their knowledge of native species to research which plants and animals would have their habitats destroyed and wrote a proposal for reducing environmental impacts. Ms. Williams worked with community partners to get funds to help each team create their proposal. With her help, the students actually created ecosystems of native species. Ms. Williams helped her students learn how to redirect their anxiety in a healthy way that helped their environment.

Project Management: Lyzette Garza, Nashville Civic Design Center

Lyzette Garza was one of the pilot teachers for the Nashville Civic Design Center's classroom materials that teach youth how to design strong communities, including sustainable transportation. In addition to teaching sustainable transportation concepts, Ms. Garza organized a showcase where her students planned events that demonstrated solutions to community issues. Student-driven and executed, the events involved more than sixty community leaders and stakeholders. One event promoted solar panel sidewalks, including a student presentation of the environmental benefits, and a solar panel demonstration. The students showed the community how solar panels can power lights and a water fountain, and had them imagine how the investment in solar panel sidewalks could benefit the community both environmentally and economically. The knowledge and enthusiasm that her 9th graders had for this topic was truly inspiring. Three of her students are now participating in summer internships that are related to this content. Another event promoted walkability in Chestnut Hill. Students explained the historical significance of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood and why walkability is important to keep it strong. Under Lyzette’s leadership, her students discovered new interests in sustainability, and thrived as leaders as they organized with the Nashville community. These students are not only equipped with the knowledge of sustainability, but the leadership skills to effectively exercise their voice.

The inaugural Sustainable Teacher Awards, sponsored by the US Green Building Council, took place on June 1st as part of our Emerald Evening fundraiser. Awards were presented by Nashville's Senior Advisor for Education, Laura Moore. 

Award Categories

School Leadership -- School administrators prioritizing sustainable practices in their school by providing options for students to learn and integrate sustainability into their own routines, supporting teachers, or advocating for school-wide green practices and infrastructure.

Curriculum Enhancement -- Teachers who are integrating sustainable topics and themes into their curriculum and classroom. This could include an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability and environmental science topics or encouraging everyday sustainable habits and practices within the classroom.

Project Management -- Educators leading projects and programs in their schools or classrooms that are giving students hands-on access to sustainable practices. Examples include school gardens, sustainable living after-school programs, recycling projects, green clubs, etc. 

    Winners receive: 

    • $200 to support classroom supplies or projects that further sustainability education around topics involving energy conservation, water preservation, food waste, green transportation, and green building;
    • An annual subscription to Learning Lab, USGBC’s newest online education platform, to aid in curriculum development; and