A School District 42 teacher is getting some attention for her environmental sustainability leadership.
Carla van der Pauw was recently featured in the Today With Science World online publication for her work as sponsor of the Eco-Action Group at Thomas Haney Secondary. The article, which is part of BC Hydro’s Power Smart for Schools initiative, recognized her effort to help students develop power smart practices and a clean-energy mindset.
“It is very humbling,” she said. “I am passionate about it and it is something I believe in and believe is valuable to the students who are interested in it.”
Van der Pauw has been the teacher sponsor for the Eco-Action Group for close to 13 years. During that time, she has helped many students pursue their interests in environmental sustainability.
Whether it is finding ways to reduce plastic consumption or limiting electricity use in the school, van der Pauw has given a helping hand to students looking to make change in their community. She said it has been rewarding to see her students continue their work after graduation and into post-secondary.
“The results are long term when you are in education,” she said. “Four years later, you see the students you taught and… the amazing things they are doing.”
During the interview with Today With Science World, van der Pauw was asked about her family life and how it drove her toward the environmental sustainability movement — questions she had not previously considered.
The article outlines her life growing up in El Salvador during a civil war 30 years ago when her family had to deal with frequent rolling blackouts in their community.
“From a very young age, I knew the importance of electricity,” she told Today With Science World. “And its unpredictability only made me appreciate it more.”
Realizing the impact the early experiences had on her sustainability views, she has now incorporated the line of questioning into her teaching. The results have led to some wide-ranging discussions, she added.
“When they come to the club, we’ve started to ask what has brought them here,” she said. “How has your history influenced you? We have had some really rich conversations about that.”