Among the set of administrative imperatives that superintendent Dr. Gene Johnson sent to administrators at the beginning of the school year was this new requirement: “Administrators will develop and implement a plan including two goals that promote an environmentally friendly school environment.”
Last year the district made a total of 77 million copies, and associate principal Steve Loe thinks that the new requirement was in response to this fact.
“Dr. Johnson is very practical,” Loe said. “He wants things to matter… [to see] how we can help the community. The district is moving that way.”
Each administrator- principal Karl Krawitz, Loe and associate principals Heather Royce and John McKinney- has taken specific initiatives in response to Johnson’s stipulations. Krawitz makes sure lights are turned off within certain sections of the building when they are not in use. McKinney has overseen the transition from hard copy faculty memos to memos sent via email, while Royce is in charge of publishing the monthly newsletter online instead of mailing it to families. This saves the school around $550 a month in postage and printing. Finally, Loe directs the effort to “go electronic,” through web backpack and the school Web site.
In addition, this year teachers have received individual codes that they input into the copy machines before they make copies, allowing production aide Toni Schmitz and secretary Loretta Preno to keep track of their paper usage. Currently, there is not a specific limit on the number of copies teachers can make, or consequences if a teacher seems to be using a large amount of paper.
“We can frown upon it,” Loe said. “We can persuade. We can ask for help. But that’s all.”
Many teachers have made individual efforts in their classrooms to help East become more environmentally friendly. World Geography teacher David Muhammad turns out the lights and unplugs electronics when he leaves for the day, and incorporates environmental awareness into his curriculum.
“We do a few activities where I ask the kids to think about ways they can save the world,” Muhammad said. “I show them the Captain Planet cartoon [from the 1990s].”
Biology teacher Larry Englebrick is taking advantage of his web backpack in order to use less paper. Students can access and take tests and quizzes on his documents page at a prescribed time during the day. Parents can sign up for progress reports and submit information sheets, too. This data is sent ot Englebrick via email, and he enters it into his gradebook.
“So far, most people have said, ‘This is easier than what we were doing before,'” Englebrick said. “It’s giving us a reason to be more creative and use the tools that are given to us.”
For Spanish teacher Kathy Kessler, it’s the smaller things that count: assigning PowerPoints instead of reports, putting in-class presentations online, and simply limiting handouts. Her students complete their weekly diarios, or “diaries,” as emails to a Gmail account with a link to a related current event.
“What I want to do is lessent the number of papers I have piled up,” Kessler said.
Loe hopes this effort will do just that for teachers, as well as set a tone for younger people.
“Maybe it will carry over at home,” Loe said. “I’ll turn off lights. I’ll go home and recycle more. Maybe kids will see me [and follow by example].”