Community Impact Report 2020
THE FUTURE OF CLEAN ENERGY
Your community electricity provider is investing in tomorrow
| BY ANNE STOKES |
Kindergartners learn about clean energy by building their own paper wind turbines. PHOTOS COURTESY OF SILVIA MARTINEZ
While Peninsula Clean Energy is working diligently to meet today’s energy needs, we’re also nurturing the next generation of innovators. To help educators bring environmental literacy into classrooms, Peninsula Clean Energy gave $25,000 to the San Mateo County Office of Education in 2018 to start a Clean Energy Teacher Fellowship. Ormondale Elementary School kindergarten teacher Silvia Martinez was one of those lucky teachers.
“I thought it was important for the students to be more aware of the environment in ways that they can understand it, so hopefully in the future they can solve problems,” says Martinez, who actually started teaching her students about the environment eight years ago.
“It gives them the power to do something about it.”
Martinez says she was able to gain valuable professional development through the fellowship program as well as comprehensive support in developing lessons. That support includes ensuring curriculum meets the state’s Next Generation Science Standards and Environmental Principals and Concepts requirements, while still enabling her to tailor lessons to what works best in her classroom.
“There’s a lot of hands-on activities for them to touch, feel and experience and then get their knowledge and build upon that,” she says.
“I thought it was important for the students
to be more aware of the environment in ways that they can understand it, so hopefully in the future they can solve problems.”
Kindergarten teacher, Ormondale
instead of building holiday gingerbread houses — which end up uneaten and thrown away after a few weeks — Martinez’s students
design and make a model clean energy house.
“They know about wind power, solar energy and recycling, but we also add other things like insulation and we add in roof top plants, we add in a lot of windows and a garden, rain barrels to make this earth-friendly house,” she says. “The goal is for them to be able to walk away from this with an understanding that they could make simple changes to the energy system and still protect their environment.”
And it isn’t just Martinez’s class that’s benefited from the fellowship. She’s been able to integrate Earth-friendly practices and learning experience across the entire campus.
“We’ve had assemblies where our students teach others. We have worm bins for the entire school, we have beautiful school gardens where we use the compost we get from that,” she says. “I think it’s wonderful we have this resource. It’s so important.”
San Mateo County schools expand environmental learning programs
Preparing leaders for clean energy starts as early as kindergarten in some San Mateo County schools.
The San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) is expanding its Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative for students grades K-12. SMCOE is the first county office of education
in the state to have launched an initiative of this kind. The program teaches sustainability across the campus, curriculum, community and culture.
SMCOE works closely with Peninsula Clean Energy, which has provided staff support and more than $250,000 for environmental literacy programs. One of these is the Clean Energy Teacher Fellowship program. After a successful pilot that reached 970 students in 2018-2019, Peninsula Clean Energy increased funding for 2020-21, so that more teachers can participate and more students be reached.
2019 Teacher Fellowship schools:
- Aragon High School
- Arroyo School
- Bayshore School
- Borel Middle School
- Foster City Elementary School
- Hillview Middle School
- Hoover Elementary School
- La Entrada
- Ormondale Elementary School
- Summit Public Schools —Shasta
- Willow Oaks School