Rachel Gutter

A growing body of research indicates that students learn better when they learn firsthand through hands-on experiences. At the Center for Green Schools, we think the same is true for everybody else, including the millions of teachers who dedicate their lives to educating our children. That’s why the Center, along with our friends at 2041, last week announced the “coolest teachers” in the country, and beginning Feb. 27, they’ll also be the world’s coldest teachers as they set sail for the South Pole.

The two teachers, Cate Arnold from the Boston Latin School and Kim Williams from Washington Elementary School in Sacramento, were selected as representatives of USGBC for a hands-on Antarctic expedition with renowned polar explorer Robert Swan in February. Cate and Kim will join participants from every corner of the globe to learn firsthand the importance of preserving the last great wilderness on Earth. Upon the teachers’ return, we will invite them to share their experiences and empower others to step up as leaders of the green schools movement.

The search for the Coolest Teacher took place in the Boston and Sacramento public school districts and teachers were selected for impressive sustainability efforts being made in their classrooms. Through their applications, Cate and Kim demonstrated their deep commitment to greening their classrooms and their curriculum, making them worthy of our “Coolest Teacher” designation.

Kim is a sixth grade teacher at Washington Elementary in Sacramento City Unified School District and has led efforts to incorporate environmental awareness into every day activities for students. She collaborates with local higher education institutions to bring the creativity and expertise of science, engineering and math graduate students and faculty into her classroom. In order to teach her students where their food comes from and to provide them with healthy food choices, she also started a school garden along with a registered 4-H Junior Master Gardener Program. The sixth-graders planted their first crops with their “Kinder-Buddies” and shared the harvest with the school salad bar.

Cate is an eighth grade teacher at the Boston Latin School in the Boston Public School District. Cate started a student-led sustainability program that has directly impacted energy usage and student wellness. Each year, she and her students raise funds to pay for an annual green summit for students and teachers in the Greater Boston area. Thus far, they’ve hosted five summits that have reached more than 2,000 students and educators from more than 200 schools. Their most recent energy efficiency success was a lighting retrofit that is saving the City of Boston $33,000 each year.

We’re very proud to see the great work Cate and Kim have already done and eagerly await updates from their trip. While putting a man on the moon may have been a big step for mankind, sending two teachers to Antarctica will be one giant leap in our quest to ensure teachers educate environmentally literate graduates.

Be sure to check out our website to read updates from the expedition, view photos and ask the teachers questions throughout their trip. And don’t forget to visit our Fellowship page as well to read more about the amazing work our Center for Green Schools Fellows are doing in the Boston and Sacramento school districts.