Posts tagged ‘schools’

April 30, 2012

Environmental challenge by local company culminates in annual student symposium May 1 with guest speaker Fabian Cousteau

When given a challenge, many of south Florida’s youth rise to the occasion and students in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) are no exception. After Wheelabrator Technologies asked three local schools to create a solution to an environmental or public challenge in their community, each school stepped to the plate to research and then conduct a year-long project. Their projects culminate in the Wheelabrator Symposium for Environment and Education to be held on May 1, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sunrise. This is an annual event that finds its roots in a relationship with Partners In Education, a non-profit that focuses on getting businesses involved in education. Wheelabrator first partnered with BCPS 20 years ago and it was through this partnership that the symposium was developed.

“This year celebrates 20 years of our partnership with Wheelabrator, so I am really excited to be a judge at the symposium,” said Nina Randall, executive director with Partners In Education. “I am always amazed at the depth of the students’ research. This year, I am especially excited that students will have the opportunity to meet Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the famed oceanographer Jacuqes Cousteau.”

The Symposium brings more than 100 students to Sunrise from 10 middle schools representing districts from New Hampshire to south Florida. This year, three Broward County schools are presenting creative and flexible solutions to resource management.

Three local schools participating worked on diverse environmental projects:

  • Westglades Middles School has been certified by the National Wildlife Foundation as a School Yard Habitat.  This year the after-school Environmental  Club joined forces with the South Florida Audubon Society, the Institute of Wildlife Sciences and the Sawgrass Nature Center and Wildlife Hospital to improve the habitat of and include new homes for Screech Owls.
  • Thirty-four million tons of food is thrown away annually in the United States [and] less than 3% of the food waste is ever recovered or recycled. After further study, students at Sawgrass Springs Middle School learned that one alternative to throwing away food, which will ultimately end up in landfills, would be to compost.  In an effort to test the theory, a composting program started at school in conjunction with the Youth Environmental Alliance under the guidance of Kristin Hoss.
  • This year the students’ goal at New River Middle School is to promote sustainability.  Spring-boarding off of their 2011 project, the team will plant an additional 25 Sabal palm trees at John U. Lloyd State Park to increase the canopy buffer zone between the lighting of Port Everglades and the beach to decrease the mortality rate of the hatching sea turtles. They will also continue to grow mangrove seedlings for replanting to provide nurseries for juvenile fish. In addition, the team will increase recycling on the school campus. New programs: The student team is growing live rock (a $4M business in Florida) since live rock naturally filters water, especially in aquarium tanks.  The will also be creating PSAs/podcasts on environmental issues.

“We are an environmental company and it’s absolutely our culture to educate and work in the community,” said Linda Sapienza, Director of Community Relations with Wheelabrator. “I wouldn’t have been able to maintain a relationship with PIE as long as we have if not backed by the company. They encourage everyone to get involved– it’s their core value.”

March 5, 2012

Local businesses in Coral Springs invest time and money helping students

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At Park Springs Elementary, it’s the local business partners that really help the school raise the bar for students. Whether it’s integrated activities or incentives, Assistant Principal Katie Policastro said she relies on her business partners to bring that extra level of support.

“We had a lot of parents involved, which we love too, but when I became the school liaison for Partners In Education, I really developed a relationship with our businesses,” said Policastro.

For students at the Coral Springs school, business partners such as Winn Dixie help teachers create a richer experience such as during “Go Math Night” where students get real world problems to solve at the store.

“They hosted 160 families when they came out for math enrichment activities,” said Policastro adding Winn Dixie helps with treats, incentives and treasure box goodies on a regular basis, helping reward students for good work.

Another Partner In Education that Policastro has successfully embraced at the school is PNC Bank who is highly active in creating a student banking program that teaches them how to save, how to count, how to manage money and set financial goals for themselves.

Recently, PNC Bank, along with Winn Dixie participated in Career Day at the school as a part of their partnership.

“Tangible, hands-on demonstrations and projects by businesses bring meaning to classroom learning,” said Nina Randall, Partners In Education, executive director. “They help answer the age old question, ‘Why do I need to learn that?’ and can help students explore different career paths.” Someone once said, ‘You can only be what you know,’ and these Career Day programs expand the possibilities for our students.”

Winn Dixie sent a cake decorator to second grade for some sugary fun and PNC spoke about the different types of money, even showing examples of bills from as far back as 1928.

Whole Foods also participated in the school’s Career Day on February 17, teaching about eating healthy.

“We have a great partnership with Whole Foods and they teach about eating healthy—what it looks like, and how to eat healthy,” added Policastro. “Last time they did a class—they made this green smoothie that was a hit.”

Policastro says she extremely grateful for the support of her business Partners In Education.

“They are all so wonderful and giving—and Career Day is only a part of it,” said Policastro.”We have a great relationship with our business partners and would love others to get involved too.”

About Partners In Education (PIE): Partners In Education improves student achievement by cultivating and integrating business, community and school resources for all students in Broward County Public Schools. All Broward County Schools are available for new partnerships. Businesses may make commitments of time, financial resources or other support, based on the need of the school and the type of business. In the 2010/2011 school year there were more than 2700 school partnerships that contributed $3.14 million in added resources to schools through cash and in-kind donations and the value of volunteer services.

For information about the program, please contact Nina A. Randall, APR, Executive Director at 754-321-1974 or or visit the PIE website at