Local students, teachers & others honored as King County Earth Heroes at School

Print This Post  Email This Post

Local students – as well as educators and other school employees – will be honored for their environmental stewardship at the King County Earth Heroes at School awards ceremony, to be held May 3 at Maplewood Greens in Renton.

Earth Heroes inspire others to create their own projects that conserve resources, protect the environment, and educate others about how simple, everyday actions can contribute to a healthier planet.

Solid Waste Division Director Pat McLaughlin will be joined by several King County Councilmembers to present the awards. Jourdan Imani Keith, director of Urban Wilderness Project, will be the keynote speaker.

The honorees represent all areas of King County and include one student, three student environmental clubs, six school staff, five teachers, and two school districts. Examples of the work these Earth Heroes have done include:

  • Creating an initiative to encourage schools to commit to reducing carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Saving energy across a school district by installing energy-efficient lighting.
  • Reusing materials to make art and art-related supplies.
  • Reducing food waste in lunchrooms by establishing share tables for unopened packaged food.
  • Collecting food waste in the lunchroom for composting.

The ceremony is set for 4:30 p.m. at Maplewood Greens, 4050 Maple Valley Hwy., Renton. For more information about the Earth Heroes at School Program, contact Donna Miscolta at [email protected] or 206-477-5282.



  • Shoshanna Cohen, White Center Heights Elementary School, White Center
    Shoshanna Cohen led the first-grade teaching team in learning about the life cycles of paper, metal, and plastics through an interactive storytelling game. As part of this project, students created four art pieces using disposable plastics and LED technology. The art pieces will serve as focal points for teaching others in the school as well those in their community how to waste less and recycle more plastic items.
  • Carol Mendoza, St. Bernadette Parish School, Burien
    Principal Mendoza leads the Green School Program efforts at a small school with a big commitment to sustainability practices. She supports her staff as they work with Green Team students to meet conservation goals. In the last two years, students have pledged to conserve energy and water; observed waste free lunches; obtained a grant for energy efficient lighting fixtures; and planned a school-wide field trip to explore the local watershed and learn about storm water pollution.


  • Jody Coulston, King’s Elementary School, Shoreline
    Local artist and K-6 art teacher Jody Coulston reuses paper and plastic materials, such as coffee filters, scrap paper, and plastic bottles, for student art projects. She uses old plastic containers for paintbrush washing and used wood pallets to make assignment boxes. She also uses a type of clay that requires only one hour in the kiln rather than overnight, which conserves significant amounts of energy.
  • Veronica Knight, Lake Washington Environmental and Adventure School, Kirkland
    Working a full-time job and parenting three children does not stop Veronica Knight from helping EAS students help the planet. Once a week, she’s in the middle school lunchroom helping students sort recyclable and compostable materials from their waste. Through her weekly interactions with students, she has mentored them in resource conservation – a practice they will maintain and share throughout their lives.


  • Student Green Team, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond
    In addition to helping Tesla STEM become a Level One King County Green School, the student Green Team conducted waste audits and calculated the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that could be reduced by composting. The team created an initiative to encourage schools to commit to reducing carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. The team also created an app for primary students to learn about climate change through games and play.


  • Jonathan Stine and Renton School District, Renton
    The Renton School District has realized significant energy savings through in-house lighting audits and utility grants for energy efficient lighting. Jonathan Stine, the district energy conservation manager, was the first among public school staff to bring tunable lighting into the classroom on a large scale. Tunable lights can be adjusted to lessen distractions or increase alertness among students. The district is installing tunable LED lighting in all special education classrooms and will do so in all new construction.
  • Mary Ward, Tiffany Park Elementary School, Renton
    Lead custodian Mary Ward helped start the lunchroom composting project. Her diligence has insured the ongoing success of the program, which has eliminated two to three 50-gallon bags of waste per day. Mary provides training to the Green Team and is herself an active member. Mary’s contributions, which include identifying and addressing issues as they arise, are a significant factor in Tiffany Park’s Sustaining Green School status.
  • Steve Wojciechowski and the Star Lake Elementary Green Team, Kent
    Steve leads the student Green Team and has set up a model system for lunchtime waste reduction and recycling, complete with food waste collection and leftover liquid buckets. It’s a system ideal for replication in other King County schools. Steve’s kindness and patience with students and his commitment to good environmental practices help students develop their own sense of responsibility for a sustainable school, community, and planet.


  • Paul Bowler and Stephanie Lecovin, Peter Kirk Elementary School, Kirkland
    Custodian Paul Bowler’s daily support for the student Green Team helps the school maintain its waste reduction and recycling excellence. Under Paul’s leadership and parent Stephanie Lecovin’s assistance, the Green Team conducted a waste audit and found that the school recycling program has an admirably low contamination rate of less than five percent. The team has created the Golden Recycling Bin Challenge to encourage even better results in waste sorting.


  • Carol Barker and Auburn School District Child Nutrition Services, Auburn
    In 2017, the King County Green Schools Program, the City of Auburn, and the University of Washington teamed with the Auburn School District to study food waste in schools. On the study’s recommendations, Auburn School District created share tables for unopened packaged food. The district’s Child Nutrition Services purchased temperature-controlled containers and King County Green Schools Program provided signage and educational tools. The food share program has reduced lunchroom food waste throughout the district.
  • Laura Sanders, Westwood Elementary School, Enumclaw
    For the past seven years, Laura Sanders has created a culture of green habits and expectations at Westwood Elementary. Her commitment to recycling, reuse, waste reduction, composting, and energy conservation has inspired the entire fifth grade to join the Green Team each of the past seven years. With a positive and infectious attitude, Laura gives up her lunch hour every day to ensure proper recycling and waste disposal. Other schools within the district are following Laura’s lead.


  • Thomas Ho, Marci Klinkenberg, and the student Green Team, Lake Youngs Elementary School, Kent
    The Lake Youngs Green Team has worked hard to create a successful lunchtime waste reduction and recycling system. Three student leaders organized over 40 other Green Team members, many of whom serve as student monitors who help other students properly sort their lunch waste. The efficiency and commitment of the Green Team makes their hard work seem effortless, though it’s really the result of the school embracing waste reduction and recycling as integral to its culture.
  • Jane Watkins, Maywood Middle School, Renton
    Year after year, Jane advises the student Green Team with the goal of sustaining a culture of sustainability at school. She attends district-wide staff Green Team meetings and shares successes for duplication by the other schools. Projects this year include the annual One Paper Towel Challenge to reduce paper towel waste at school; an analysis of parking lot idling; a staff training on reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting; and an award to recognize acts of greenness at school.
  • Andrea Wolfe, Apollo Elementary School, Renton
    Andrea leads the school Green Team to ensure that all staff, students, and their families are educated in reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting waste. Educational methods include signs, a video, and loud speaker announcements. Andrea created a schedule for Green Team members to visit classrooms and assist other students in the lunchroom in properly sorting their waste. She weighs the waste each day so students can track their progress in recycling and waste reduction.
  • Kelsey Webb, Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw
    As a member of the school Green Team, Kelsey took an active role in initiating Enumclaw High School’s participation in the King County Green Schools Program. She has led the Green Team in creating a video contest to promote the new recycling system, and is working toward eliminating Styrofoam lunch trays. She has also worked with Enumclaw restaurants to discontinue the use of plastic straws.

Print This Post  Email This Post

Comments are closed.