LO teachers take on green initiative

Many LOHS teachers have started taking action to help the environment, ranging from biking to school every day to getting involved in community efforts and student organizations. Green Team adviser, Spanish and social studies teacher Breck Foster has been a leader in the push towards raising community awareness around climate change while bringing it into school curriculum to educate and empower students to make change. Math teacher Daniel Kumprey has contributed to efforts as well, joining a larger movement of teachers who consistently bike to and from school.

At a November professional development session, she presented ideas about integrating sustainability education into the curriculum along with English teacher Kristy Aalberg.

Many teachers have already embedded issues of conservation into their lesson plans, but with the aim of explicitly making climate change a school-wide focus, Foster hopes the in-class activities and various lectures will “highlight the idea of acting locally for a global issue.”

By making connections to economics, history, science classes around climate change and its effect, she hopes to empower future leaders to take on the issue through problem-solving and the spread of awareness.

Foster was the first to recommend the book “Rising” by Elizabeth Rush to be the LO reads book as a way to bring the community together around a prominent issue.

Though personal experiences with the outdoors initially drew her into the book, she also enjoyed the universal message it carried. Foster said, “[“Rising”] made me appreciate nature, highlighted how beautiful the world that we live in is and how fragile it is.”

Though Green Team is only a relatively new club, established in January 2019, members have already made significant progress under Foster’s guidance and don’t plan on stopping soon. This spring, she’s looking forward to guest speakers author Elizabeth Rush and activist Stephanie Wagner. Applying for more grants to get more water filling stations around the school is another goal to work towards.

Kumprey has taken a different route in working to lessen his carbon footprint, biking 28 miles round trip between his house and the school every day. After purchasing an electric bike in December in hopes of increasing consistency, he’s joined a growing number of LOHS teachers that consistently use their electric bikes to get to school, including “pioneers” like science teacher Jeffrey Goodrich and French teacher Lisa Grimm.

Kumprey commented, “I love biking, it makes me feel like a kid again, it’s good exercise, it saves me money on gas, reduces congestion on Portland streets which have gotten really bad in the last decade and it’s good for the environment.”

In the long run, Kumprey hopes to encourage other staff members and students alike to overcome any reservations about biking in favor of the numerous benefits it offers, urging, “Just give it a shot because it’s so much fun.”

Foster and Kumprey are only two examples of a larger picture of staff members and people in the community working to contribute to the battle against climate change, taking small steps to work towards an improved environment.

Ultimately, these forward-thinking staff members have worked towards Foster’s goal to “Encourage kids to look at climate change as not a hopeless situation, but something they can take action around and that people are taking action around.”