In honor of Earth Day, the Arizona Department of Education is partnering with the City of Phoenix to promote the city’s Student Council Sustainability Officers Program.
The program functions by adding a Sustainability Officer position to High School student councils. The Sustainability Officers are given a Greening Events Guide for Schools developed by the city in partnership with ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network. Schools are encouraged to partner with their local municipalities to develop regional competitions.
“The City of Phoenix has shown that sustainability is an incredible learning opportunity in our schools, and we know that students thrive when they have space to be creative,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. This initiative has shown incredible success in the Phoenix Union High School District and my office is proud to partner with the City of Phoenix to promote the concept.”
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, a passionate supporter of the program praised the vision saying, “Sustainability should be a core focus in our schools, and this medium provides a powerful way to integrate these ideas. Students who learn these principles now are the same people who will change and improve the trajectory of our communities and our world.”
The Phoenix Union High School District was the first district to adopt this model in 2014 and has engaged approx. 20,000 students in sustainability leadership and education. This has resulted in student-led sustainability initiatives such as the implementation of a waste reduction program, gardens, healthy eating cooking classes, and campus and nature clean-ups.
"We are seeing more students who are asking how they can become future sustainability leaders, and this program provides them the first step towards that career goal,” said Darice Ellis, Sustainability Specialist for the City Manager’s Office of Sustainability.
As planning for the next school year begins, the Department is encouraging schools across the state to implement the program in their own district. Tempe Union High School District and Tolleson Union High School Districted are expected to be the next
school districts to add the program to their schools after the Department and city started partnering late last year.
“While Phoenix is leading this initiative, any district across the state can join and add the program to their schools,” Hoffman added.
Schools interested in learning more about the concept should contact the Arizona Department of Education at [email protected].