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Eco-Friendly: FUSD Launches Environmental Professional Development Series
Posted 11/4/22
photo of people observing leaves outdoors

Building students’ environmental awareness is an important focus for Fremont Unified School District.

“One of our responsibilities as educators is preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the future,” said Superintendent CJ Cammack. “Our Board of Education recognized that in the 21st century, this includes ensuring our graduating students are climate literate.”

The Board of Education approved two resolutions outlining these goals: in May 2021, the Board approved Resolution No. 030-2021, which declared FUSD’s commitment to educating students on climate change and climate solutions, and in February 2022 it approved “The Roosevelt Resolution,” which highlighted the importance of educational opportunities that promote environmental stewardship.

“The District is expanding the information, support and resources we offer our outstanding educators so they can continue to deliver high-quality instruction that is responsive to our students’ needs and prepares them for the future,” said Cammack.

attendees talking a walk outdoors
Attendees walking around Tule Ponds during the “Introduction to Climate Literacy and Action” EEPD session.

This year the District’s Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Department introduced a new support for teachers in this effort: its Environmental Education Professional Development (EEPD) training series. Sessions are open to any FUSD educator who wants help or professional partnership in adding an environmental focus to their instruction.

“These professional development opportunities are designed to help our teachers incorporate environmental themes as they continue to do an amazing job of meeting educational standards while cultivating our students’ curiosity, and they provide an opportunity to learn about spaces that can be used to further learning locally right here in Fremont” said FUSD’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Corey Brown. 

An EEPD session, “Connecting Students to Nature," was held in September at Cabrillo Elementary. Attendees discussed and explored class management practices to help teachers take students outdoors for instruction, whether or not the lessons deal with environmental topics.

Attendees at "Connecting Students to Nature" practice identifying biotic and abiotic items in a quadrant on the grounds of Cabrillo Elementary.

A value C&I brings into its professional development offerings is providing participants an opportunity to engage in learning activities that they can enjoy, and then incorporate in their practice. For the EEPD session on connecting students to nature, this was achieved by hosting activities outdoors to help educators build their own connection to nature. 

In October, an EEPD session was held at Tule Ponds at Tyson's Lagoon, a popular field trip destination for FUSD students for many years. 

adults in learning space with person pointing to and talking about map
Dr. Joyce Blueford, Board President of Fremont’s Math/Science Nucleus tells attendees about Fremont's climate past through its rich geographic history during the “Introduction to Climate Literacy and Action” EEPD session.

The session, “Introduction to Climate Literacy and Action,” included a deep dive into Fremont's climate history and an exploration of Tule Ponds, both led by Dr. Joyce Blueford, Board President of Fremont’s Math/Science Nucleus. Rachel DiFranco, the City of Fremont's Sustainability Manager, also presented an overview of the City's Climate Action Plan and how to support students and their families to reduce climate impacts. 

The local focus in the session is an important element of climate education, particularly as these topics are introduced to our youngest learners.

“Connecting to local and connecting to nature are both going to be really important strategies for helping kids navigate all the climate issues,” said Nate Ivy, an Instructional Coach in C&I and lead developer of the EEPD sessions. “If we start with polar bears and ice caps and CO2 and greenhouse gas, it gets abstract and scary really fast.”

trees at tule ponds tule ponds seen through leaves
An EEPD session held at Tule Ponds at Tyson's Lagoon, a popular field trip destination for FUSD students for many years, included a deep dive into Fremont's climate history and an exploration of Tule Ponds.

Tailoring climate instruction to be age-appropriate is a strategy teachers can gain in the EEPD sessions, and is addressed throughout C&I’s ongoing efforts to build climate literacy into instruction across grade levels. 

During the 2022 Summer Academies, C&I staff integrated environmental themes as they developed the English language arts and math curriculum. Books, activities and instruction on the theme of “zero waste” were used throughout the program. Grade bands focused on different topics, such as how and why to conserve water for younger students, and the impacts of fast fashion and choices around consumption for older students.

“The connection to nature and having an action orientation is really important when you do climate education,” said Ivy. “Start with connecting to your place, start with kids having agency and responsibility around the environment.”

FUSD teachers can sign up for future EEPD sessions in Frontline; upcoming opportunities include a tour of the Fremont Transfer Station, where attendees can see what happens when we throw something "away" and learn about educational programs and support available from local partners.

More Eco-Friendly news is posted on our website, and more stories are coming with updates on the amazing work being done in our school community. 

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