The San Mateo County Office of Education announced 25 stand-out school leaders who received a One Planet Schools Challenge award for their innovative sustainability efforts during the 2019-20 school year. The purpose of the San Mateo County One Planet Schools Challenge is to identify students, teachers, administrators, and community members who are leading meaningful change in the Campus, Curriculum, or greater community, and to recognize them for their impact towards creating a sustainable future.

Among the projects were campus-wide events that built awareness of environmental issues, hands-on units of study exploring environmental topics, and an environmental film festival.

For the second year, Peninsula Clean Energy has provided a $500 financial award for leaders to expand the next phase of their projects. This year’s five awardees are:

Burlingame High School in Partnership with Burlingame Citizens Environmental Council
Burlingame High School senior Jeffrey Chen partnered with Burlingame Citizens Environmental Council (CEC) to host the third annual CEC Student Film Festival. This year, the festival was expanded to allow fourth through twelfth-grade students county-wide to submit their environmental films.

Foster City Elementary School
A team of educators and students at Foster City Elementary School successfully implemented a campus-wide waste diversion program that was integrated into their school’s curriculum. Because of the program’s success, the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability recognized Foster City Elementary as a “Green Star School.”

San Carlos School District
San Carlos School District students participated in a district-wide weekly online Sustainability Class. Students learned about biodiversity, waste, water, and other topics in the context of their everyday lives at home.

Summit Public Schools (Shasta and Beyond)
Tenth-grade physics classes across multiple Summit Charter institutions learned about wind turbines as a source of clean energy. The unit culminated with students conducting research on their own mini turbines, as well as advocacy for increased use of wind power for a clean energy future.

Westmoor High School
After Westmoor High School Biology teacher Jessica Tiatia taught her students about the importance of biodiversity, they and the Environmental Action Club took action by planting nearly 100 native plants around the campus.