Monday, April 19, 2010

UPDATED: Mike Town celebrates his NEA award at Redmond High.

Redmond High teacher Mike Town receiving award from Phillipe Cousteau

UPDATED:  Excitement abounded at Redmond High School this morning.  The Performing Arts Center overflowed with students and citizens as dignitaries from the state and around the country were on hand to recognize and award Mike Town for his NEA Green Prize in Public Education.

The NEA Foundation presented Mr.  Town a $25,000 award and national recognition for his Cool School Challenge curriculum.  In addition to the NEA award, it was announced Mike won a 1-year Fellowship to work in Washington D.C. under the National Science Foundation.  His absence will be noticed in the Pacific Northwest community next year.

Through Cool Schools Challenge and Wild Sky Wilderness efforts, Town has developed strong relationships with Congressman Jay Inslee and Governor Gregoire.   A Keynote speaker, Phillipe Cousteau commented that Mike has an ability to reach out to legislatures.  "In talking to Mike last night, he knew more about congressmen and staffers than I did", said Cousteau drawing a chuckle from the audience.  Phillipe lives in D.C. and frequents the Hill.   Phillipe is Correspondent for Green Planet and the grandson of Jacque Cousteau.

Town competed with 38 applicants for the award.  Town's Cool School Challenge curriculum has helped students, teachers, and school districts from over 150 schools nationwide reduce over 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.  Through infrastructure changes and the students' work, Redmond High School has saved over $30,000 per year in electricity and waste costs and reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by over 200,000 pounds.

In addition to the success of the Cool School Challenge project, Town has the highest enrollment of an AP Environmental Science class in the state, with approximately half of every of the Redmond High School graduating class taking his course.  Town thanked Principal Jane Todd and acknowledged ex-Mayor Rosemary Ives for her support.    

Video clips of Mike and from Governor Gregoire were played.  Mike has always lived in small towns outside of cities.  He said "the single biggest point source for green-house gas is local high schools.  And, ""the best way of mitigating environmental problems has and always will be education."   Governor Gregoire praised Town for his work to reduce the carbon footprint at Redmond fire houses and she plans to take Mike's program to schools statewide.   

Congressman Jay Inslee will join Mike Town and other panelists in Bellingham, Saturday, May 15th to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Western Washington's Huxley College of the Environment.  Town is a graduate.  According to Manca Valum, Director of Development, Huxley is "probably the oldest college in the country with the sole purpose of studying the environment."  It was founded in 1969.  Ms. Vahum was in the audience.

The teaching curriculum can be freely downloaded from the Cool School Challenge web site.  It helps student teams gather data about the carbon footprint of each class and, based on their findings, create an action plan to reduce their impact.

Reported by Bob Yoder
Pictures by Yoder

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