John Sierra - Northern California Teacher of the Year

This post is part of ACE's Teacher of the Year blog series. 

These days, with lack of proper funding for public education, which, unfortunately, in most cases, leaves students inadequately prepared for the future, it is always refreshing to shine a light on the teachers who transform that lack into opportunities outside of the classroom. John Sierra, a science teacher and faculty sponsor for the FRESHH Club at Freedom High School in Oakley, Ca in Northern California does just that.

Every year since 2010 John has invited ACE to come to his school to educate the students about climate change and build leadership for the FRESHH environmental club. Since then, John has helped the FRESHH secure a $5,000 sponsorship from the California Native Garden Foundation to collaborate and design a 6,000 square foot garden at our school - featuring 5 major ecosystems of California.  The plan ties in with their recycling and waste reducing efforts on campus via creative uses for plastic bottles, reclaimed lumber, recycled car tires and composting food waste. They are also demonstrating water conservation with rain harvesting, drip irrigation, and drought-tolerant plants. Their garden blog explains it all.

Most recently, they entered in the Samsung "Solve for Tomorrow" contest...and won. Out of 1,600 applications, FRESHH was selected by judges to be one of 15 finalists. They didn't win the grand prize, but they DID win $40,000 worth of Samsung technology!

Here is a link to their video:

[youtube] [/youtube]

The best thing about making the video, though, was all the publicity they received through local media, promoting the competition. Previously, very few students knew they had a garden, but now they can easily say that over half the school is well aware. They have also received numerous offers for donations and assistance from the community - including expert master gardeners and a city council member who donated bee hives (and bees)!  It has truly became a community effort! Thanks John Sierra for your dedication to your students, the community, and overall environmental sustainability!