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East Elementary School Kicks Off Improved Recycling Program

Reading and Math Interventionist Jennifer Borra appears with fifth graders Martha Carranza and Marisela Cervantes on the school news broadcast to educate the school community about using the new red recycling bins. They were provided by Habitat For Humanity.

East Elementary students are learning the importance of taking care of the environment and the impact each individual can make towards creating a better world when they make responsible choices such as choosing to recycle. Staff and students at East Elementary School have been recycling paper on a regular basis for a couple of years, but the school community felt the need to do more. In the spring of 2013, members of the school Globalization Committee began to investigate ways to expand the recycling program. Jennifer Borra, interventionist and Globalization Committee member, met with head custodian Steve Williams and Assistant Principal Jalonda Polk to determine where improvements could be made to create a more comprehensive recycling plan at school in conjunction with the City of Monroe. The custodial staff at East placed paper recycling bins in classrooms and grade level halls on predetermined days so teachers and students could have easy access to dispose of their recyclables. There was just one problem. The City of Monroe only handled paper and cardboard. The school still needed a plan to recycle plastics and aluminum. 

Amy Beidari, a kindergarten teacher, had heard that Habitat for Humanity provided support to other organizations in recycling efforts. She spoke to Mike Reece from Habitat of Union County and was pleased to learn that not only would they support the school’s vision but they could help sustain the project long term by hauling the recyclables away. Habitat for Humanity relies on the proceeds from the sale of recyclables to raise funds for their own programs. It would be a win-win situation. Over the summer, Amy Beidari and her family moved out of the country, but Borra was determined to see the recycling program come to fruition. A chance encounter between Borra and Reece of Habitat for Humanity at the UCPS Professional Development Center in August during the United Way campaign created the opportunity to finally get a new and improved recycling program underway.
A final plan was put in place on August 27, 2013 when Borra and Steve Williams, the head custodian at East Elementary School, met with Chris Newton, the recycling coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat provided the school with red bins for recycling plastic and aluminum. Plans were also made for a cardboard receptacle to be placed on the school grounds in an approved location. It was decided that students and staff members would collect cardboard, plastic bottles and cans on a regular basis and all materials would be collected on Wednesdays by the school custodial staff and hauled away by Habitat for Humanity. Paper would continue to be picked up and recycled by the City of Monroe.

The next step was educating the school community and getting everyone to participate. Borra notified the staff with an email and spoke at faculty meetings. She also appeared with some fifth grade students on the morning news broadcast to educate the students about the importance of recycling and how to use the receptacles properly. The best part about this collaboration between East Elementary and Habitat for Humanity is how the school’s efforts to take care of the environment can also help to create a better home for a family in the community. Borra told the students, “Last year, Habitat of Union County was able to raise enough funds through recyclables to build an entire home worth $52,000 for a deserving family!” Perhaps the students and staff at East Elementary could recycle enough materials for another home to be funded and built this year.

Written by: Jennifer Borra, Interventionist
Posted: Sep 25, 2013 by Lisa Moniz

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