Saturday, May 10, 2014

Good Shepherd Montessori School Presents a Sustainability Conference

I've been fortunate in this first year of my Climate Chronicles/Earth Charter Indiana adventure of going deep with a couple of schools. "Going deep" means I visit more than once, and stay in touch via email and or phone, touching base, sharing grant opportunities I find, making connections between folks.

Good Shepherd Montessori School in South Bend is a great example. First off, I've now visited the school twice, and they participated in the Eco Science Fair as part of the Going Green Fest last March. In fact, at the Eco Science Fair, two of the Junior High students at Good Shepherd asked me to come to their Sustainability Conference, held at their school.

Photo by Tami Barbour
Of course I said 'yes,' that's what going deep is all about! So I agreed to attend the conference, run a panel on energy, and then present my Ain't Too Late game show at the end, so that everyone could gather and have a good time.

The Sustainability Conference was held May 2, and in this all day gathering nearly two dozen presentations were showcased by the 7th and 8th graders. Good Shepherd invited another Montessori school to participate, and a home school squad of presenters were there as well.

The presentations ranged from nuclear energy to genetic modification to the benefits of eating locally. Most kids had a power point of some kind; some kids used a bunch of props — such as the presentation on fermentation.

Here are a few images from the conference:

 8th grader Edward, presenting on Placemaking. Photo by Tami Barbour

8th grader Corrinne, presenting on Upcycling. Photo by Tami Barbour

Students and professionals gather for the keynote speech by Theri Niemier. Photo by Tami Barbour
Keynote speaker Theri Niemier, of Bertrand Farm. Photo by Tami Barbour

8th grader Noah, presenting on Clean Water. Photo by Tami Barbour

An official from the City of South Bend was present, along with representatives from Notre Dame and IUSB. There were some local farmer-educators such as Charlotte Wolfe (Prairie Winds Nature Farm) and keynote speaker, Theri Niemier from Bertrand Farm.

It was an enlightening day. I didn't always agree with the conclusions of the students, but their presentations were vigorously researched and usually dynamically presented.

Good Shepherd students who organized the conference; on the left is a representative from the John J. Reilly Center that sponsored the event.  Photo by Tami Barbour

 8th graders, Matthew and Edward, celebrate their presentations. Photo by Tami Barbour

One of the students has agreed to work up a comprehensive description of what the students did to pull this conference off with such professionalism. I'll share that report as soon as I receive it, as I believe other Indiana schools will want to hold their own conferences.

For me, an added delight about going deep with Good Shepherd is that I was born and raised in South Bend. It fills me with happiness to see such a progressive, eco-conscious and stewardship-minded bunch of school officials, generally known as "guides" (instead of teachers), and top-notch students willing to take on some of the challenging issues of our time.

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