February 2017

In this edition of ‘What Inspires Me’ we feature Maree Bailey, Sustainability Leader at new 5Star School Mentone Primary School. Maree is the current ResourceSmart Schools Teacher of the Year (Primary School).

1. How did you first get started with environmental education?

My initial beginnings started as a child growing up on a farm and learning to understand the importance of caring for the environment and animals. My parents taught me a range of skills such as how to maximise crops, improve soils, propagate, prune and animal care.

I became a primary teacher in 2008 and was lucky to be offered a position at Mentone Primary. In later years an opportunity to join the Sustainability Committee presented itself and it seemed completely natural to join the team. In 2014, I took on the role of Sustainability Leader at Mentone Primary.

2. What have been the biggest highlights of your journey so far?

The highlights have been many including:

  • receiving our first Star in the ResourceSmart Schools program to becoming a 5Star school in December 2016
  • sharing joint School of the Year in the ‘i sea, i care’ program in 2015
  • winning Coordinator of the Year in 2016 for the Dolphin Research Institute
  • finalist in the ResourceSmart Schools Awards for the Waste category in 2016
  • awarded ResourceSmart Schools Teacher of the Year in 2016

3. What has been the biggest obstacle? How did you/are you overcoming it?

The biggest obstacle was to embed sustainable practices throughout the school, a task I couldn’t do on my own. I needed the help of a strong and passionate team to motivate and enthuse others. First we built a teacher committee to help plan, then we formed a student leadership team with a strong voice. We communicated the importance of sustainability to key leaders with the help of the school community, and finally built partnerships from outside organisations.

4. What future plans or goals are you excited about?

Interested students have applied and been selected as our Sustainability Leaders for 2017. We have several Leadership teams covering energy, biodiversity, water and waste. We also have ‘i sea, i care’ ambassadors, and for the first time a Kids Teaching Kids team. In past years our Sustainability Leaders have only been selected from our Grade 5 and 6 students, but this year we invited Grade 4 and 5 students to apply as Grade 6 students tend to be overloaded with other responsibilities, especially in Term 4.

Another major change is to give the younger students a voice. We are going to have Prep students be ‘Waste Ninjas’ spreading the word up through the school and the school community about being waste wise and bringing nude food each day.

5. What advice would you offer to other students who are interested in environmental issues and who might want to inspire others at their school?

Place a sign above your desk ‘many hands make light work’. You can’t do it on your own. Create a team of teachers and students, drum up support, communicate achievements and savings to the school council and the school community, run PDs to keep staff enthused and confident, build a student Sustainability Club and hold weekly meetings, provide opportunities where students are involved in sustainable practices (such as compost turners, water warriors, energy and green team monitors, chicken carers etc.), and most importantly give students a voice. Students having the opportunity of presenting at assemblies, teaching others, collecting data, writing articles and sharing sustainable messages to parents and the community is a very strong and effective way to communicate sustainable practices at your school. And remember, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (from The Lorax).

Thank you Maree for sharing your story.

For more information, visit Mentone Primary Schools blog page.

By CERES Education – Outreach Team|2017-11-06T18:40:47+10:00January 18th, 2017|0 Comments