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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

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.