by BOB SIEGEL
Principal, Valley View Elementary
Being a Michigan State University (MSU) alumni and HUGE fan of the Spartans, when I first heard the phrase, “GO GREEN!” I instinctively shouted out loud, “GO WHITE!” (Green and White are MSU’s school colors—in case you missed the NCAA basketball tournament.)
This past fall, Valley View Elementary School, along with other schools in Rockford, focused on educating our students about the importance of protecting our environment on our “one and only” planet Earth! At Valley View, teachers Nancy Berg (fourth grade) and Brad Davison (fifth grade) invited fourth- and fifth-graders to be leaders of this effort by joining our school’s newly created “Green Team”—a hands-on experience at helping safeguard Mother Earth. What started out as a simple group of students looking to engage in fun activities under Nancy and Brad’s leadership, became a group very serious about their efforts and highly organized. The experience culminated in the reception of the “Green Award,” given by the Kent County Intermediate School District. Valley View’s upper-elementary students truly embraced the concepts of conservation and recycling to the point where they gave up recesses to organize their tasks.
A “tree-hugger” I am not, but one can no longer overlook the need to be conscious of the environment around us! As a leader of future leaders, it’s incumbent upon us as educators—and parents—to teach our children the importance of considering how and what we USE, from material goods to electronic devices. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a parent and educator, it’s that whatever we place a high priority and focus on is what our children will grow up to place importance on when they are adults.
The way that I view this topic is analogous to how we should treat our bodies. We get ONE shot at taking care of our earthly “temples,” as the Greeks used to say. If we mistreat our human bodies by eating poorly, failing to exercise, and abuse chemicals, the result will probably not be a long and prosperous life. Unfortunately, once our body begins to malfunction, we do NOT get to trade it in for a new one! The same goes for “Mother Earth!”
I’m not sure we’ll ever truly know the extent of damage already done by humans to Mother Nature, but we can certainly do something about the future. Speaking of the future, it would be a great legacy for all of us to say to our grandkids, “We tried!”