This past weekend, Wichita Collegiate was awarded the Kansas Green School of the Year award by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE). Lower School science teacher Jena Simms and 4th grader and Green Team member Tyler Ragan accepted the award at the banquet held this past Friday.
The Kansas Green School awards recognize Kansas public and private schools that have demonstrated innovation, leadership, whole school involvement, and an integrated, holistic, sustainable approach to implementing environmental projects with a strong environmental education component in their schools. This is only possible thanks to the incredible leadership of Mrs. Jena Simms. Mrs. Simms moved into the Lower School science position in the Fall of 2019. Since then she has worked tirelessly in her pursuit of creating a curriculum that embraces the classic science curriculum while also creating a focus on the environment and sustainability on our campus, support of food insecurity in our community, and a better future for our students (our Global Guardians!). She does all of this hand-in-hand with the students, involving them in everything from water and waste studies, to gardening, and more.
KACEE put out the following statement, “It is amazing what a group of 8-10-year-olds can do with the support of a creative and dedicated teacher. The Wichita Collegiate Global Guardians are 3rd and 4th grade students who have volunteered their time and talents to help make their school greener and healthier for all. These students meet one day each week over their lunch period/recess period and work through the Kansas Greens Schools investigations. The students have led the way in creating leadership positions, investigating water, waste, healthy school environment, and the school’s outdoor space since they began. For each of these investigations they’ve led, they also develop plans to conserve more and use fewer resources. Led by teacher Jena Simms, these students then present their findings and ideas for solutions to their fellow students, school administrators, and community members.
“These students started with investigating water and, according to Simms, took this very seriously, noting that still to this day, they take bi-monthly water walks and check the water sources on the campus. They have made several recommendations to the Head of School, Mr. Washer, for water conservation improvements. These students continued to meet after the water investigation was complete and each day strive to take actions that impact the earth in positive and meaningful ways. This group affectionately named themselves the OG’s because they were the original green team on campus.
“Jena Simms notes the impact this has had on her students and the school: ‘Kansas Green Schools have impacted the way these students learn and interact with their natural surroundings. It has sparked an interest in the Lower School students and thus impacted all the families at home. One of the things I am most proud of is how these students take what they have learned by completing the investigations and take it and apply it in their home lives. They are making a difference at school AND at home.’ For their work to lead the way for greener and healthier schools, KACEE is pleased to present the 2023 Kansas Green School of the Year Award to Wichita Collegiate School.”