The TDSB EcoSchools program is growing fast in secondary schools! So fast, in fact, that this past year, 27 out of the 173 schools certified as TDSB EcoSchools were secondary, more than double the 12 certified the year before. The EcoSchools program is expanding to respond to this groundswell and help secondary school EcoTeams get started or build on existing strengths.
Through a partnership with Evergreen, a national charity with a focus on creating and sustaining healthy, natural outdoor spaces, EcoSchools has brought Leadership Facilitator Maggie Ballantyne into the program to work with secondary schools. Her work focuses on students, who she says are the driving force for EcoSchools initiatives at the secondary level.
And that work is already well underway. Following the October 17 Certification Awards ceremony for secondary schools at City Hall, EcoTeams walked up University Avenue to the University of Toronto's Hart House to take part in a leadership seminar. “Students and staff advisers alike came away with new ideas, new connections to people and the city, and new activities,” said Ballantyne. “The very next week,” she continued, “Bethune CI students were using some of these activities to introduce EcoSchools to students at Kennedy PS. It’s exciting to see that kind of immediate payoff.”
Bethune CI student and experienced EcoSchools team member Latif came away impressed with the seminar. “The innovative approach is unique and builds on student’s leadership qualities in a fun, interactive, and practical manner.” Students learned about simple yet relevant team-building activities that the Bethune CI team has since used as a staple in its three-step program for working with elementary school EcoTeams.
Two more scheduled half-day seminars will address team-building and skills development to equip students to become more effective leaders of their schools' EcoTeams. "Building Team Spirit and Effective Leadership" is presented Thursday, November 29, and repeated Friday, January 18, 2008. "Taking Action and Designing Campaigns" takes place Wednesday, December 12, and is repeated Wednesday, January 30, 2008. Schools can send up to 6 students. All sessions are at Hart House and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
EcoSchools Program Coordinator Richard Christie has long been wanting to find a way to give student environmental leaders support to meet the challenges of secondary school EcoSchools implementation. "We are very pleased to be able to offer Maggie's assistance to secondary schools interested in starting or improving their EcoSchools program,” he said. “This is a service we have been dreaming about providing for some time, and we are just delighted that our partnership with Evergreen and continuing strong support from TDSB Facility Services makes this new position possible."
For more details about the seminars, visit the EcoSchools website at www.ecoschools.ca. For information about how to register, contact Maggie Ballantyne at 416-394-7229 or email@example.com.