Pure, Simple Sustainability
This is how NPH defines success in its schools.
October 2, 2016 - Mexico
The NPH high school director defines success as the moment, “The student achieves a transformation to be a good person, useful to themselves, and to society.”
The one class which exemplifies success at the school in Cuernavaca is ecology, says Director Alfredo Gomez, it’s the combination of subject matter and teacher.
He says ecology is a course that flourishes - from theory in the classroom to practice outside of school and its teacher generates immense interest and commitment from students.
“What the students learn in class, they take with them into their personal lives,” says Director Gomez. “They care for the environment in their school, in their home and in their community.”
Students create sustainable projects at school, help people in their community and visit science and technology fairs at other schools.
“We visited the Earth Day exhibition at the University of the State of Morelos where we saw various projects that benefit the natural environment,” says student Jose. “It inspires them,” he says.
“The ecology teacher, Blanca Estela Dorantes Salgado, is not only a patient, caring individual,” says Director Gomez, “but well educated in the environment.”
She studied biology at the University of the State of Morelos and has a passion for teaching; she is always prepared and continuously training. Students learn more because of her strategies, the director says. She has great relations with them, and she cares about them academically and personally. She also collaborates with other teachers on school projects.
On-going projects include:
- A green space/garden on school grounds with a water-purifying system.
- A plastic-recycling program: Students collect items containing PET (polyethylene terephthalate), and sell it to a local buyer. The money they make they use for bus fares for class trips.
- Cleanup of local streets: Students sweep and pick up garbage on the streets they walk on to get to school.
- Community out-reach: Students spend time with people on the streets and help them as they can. Sometimes it’s just engaging in conversation, and other times they give out clothing or food.
“We learn to help others. It is good to share and it is a common benefit to all,” says Jose. “We always learn something new and novel in this class.”
Many of these projects are multi-disciplinary too. The school’s classes join forces to collectively work towards a single goal.
For instance, the ecology class created a bicycle that generates power and pumps water into the garden. The computer class documented the process, accounting determined its cost, tourism developed a business plan to pitch to local businesses, polyculture maintained the garden, and the electrical class made the device run.
This is a simple example of sustainable development in motion.
“Everything is united,” says teacher Blanca. “We want the students to be conscious of the environment, of people and themselves and how one impacts the other.”
“The teacher is a great motivator,” says the director. “She raises both the grades and spirits of her students.”
"She resolves my doubts and gives us advice," says student Mariel. "We trust her and have confidence in her and I think she feels the same for us."
Blanca says she engages with students now, in high school, before they go off to pursue their professional lives. She says it is essential to help them, for them “to realize the rules of life” and to instill values in them.
“The skills they obtain as students they later apply to life,” she says. “It’s wonderful I can help form a person, a professional, a family person, and to help them face life.”
Students say they have learned to appreciate the environment and realize their impact on it. They are much more aware of nature now and make a conscious effort to conserve and care for it.
“Everything we learn is useful for our lives,” says another student.
Sounds like pure success and pure sustainability.