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Highlands Ranch teacher, Heather Berry, honored at White House

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Highlands Ranch High School science teacher, Heather Berry, was honored for her work by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality in a ceremony at the White House this week. She is one of just 18 teachers from across the country who was recognized for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship. The event included remarks from Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s Chief Senior Advisor and John King, Secretary of Education.

“These teacher and student winners are exemplary leaders, committed to strong environmental conservation and tackling problems including landfill waste and climate change head on,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Environmental education cultivates our next generation of leaders by teaching them how to apply skills in creativity and innovation. I have no doubt that teachers and students like these will someday solve some of our most complex and important issues.”

READ MORE: 2016 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) Winners

For a decade, Berry has ignited her students’ passion about science and the environment through hands-on activities, connecting current events with classroom subject matter and her unique Project Based Learning Series. By challenging her students to make their school or community more environmentally sustainable, they have developed several interesting year-long projects, including creating recycling and composting programs, using outdoor classrooms, installing a solar-powered cell phone charging station and working with elementary schools to increase their environmental sustainability. Her students also complete research projects on population growth, environmental biodiversity and energy consumption and savings that require consideration of economic, religious, cultural and governmental topics at the county level.

Berry recently began an international collaboration opportunity in which her students communicate about their daily lives and share sustainability projects with a school in Taiwan. In a similar fashion, she has extended environmental education beyond the classroom by taking her students on local, national and international field trips. Berry and her colleagues have taken students to Hawaii, Iceland, the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere to explore human impacts on these areas and participate in volunteer activities to improve the environment.

Berry participates in numerous speaking events, surveys fellow teachers to help integrate environmental curriculum into other content areas, and serves on Douglas County School District’s Sustainability Steering Committee to add environmental education to curricula at other schools. She is planning a retreat with at least one teacher from each of the district’s schools to help broaden the scope of environmental education. Berry is also developing a partnership with a middle school in Taiwan so that her students can correspond on tree-planting and pond-building projects.


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August 17, 2016 | By CSilberman | Category: Sustainability

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glowing purple lights hover over trays of seedlings in a dark room

It may look like a plain, white shipping container was just parked on the backyard grounds of Mountain Vista High School. The contents of the container are anything but plain, though. Walking inside the container, different colors of ambient lighting glow, futuristic-looking equipment and tall towers are suspended from the ceiling, and the humidity level is set to 70 percent. The container has been recycled into a new kind of learning opportunity for students.