Heather Berry: driving sustainability

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Heather Berry posing on an Iceland shore. Photo courtesy of Heather Berry 

 

  Highlands Ranch High School contains a variety of educators, but Heather Berry, science teacher, has been recognized on multiple occasions for surpassing expectations, and as of recent, has become DCSD’s sustainability learning specialist. On top of receiving numerous awards, one even taking her to the White House, Berry is also HR’s very own sustainability champion, therefore leading sustainability throughout the school.

  To fulfill this title, Berry visits three to five schools per week to help support and integrate sustainability by encouraging students to generate ideas that benefit their schools. “We only have one Earth. By preserving land, and decreasing the pollution we release into the air, land and water, we are ensuring continuation of life for ourselves as well as for the many species we live with,” Berry said. At these schools, Berry is currently driving projects such as a recycling program at Larkspur Elementary, a student-run sustainability club at North Ridge Elementary and a large outdoor classroom at Cimarron Middle School.

  Not to mention, Berry has also started growing a garden here at HR with her AP Environmental students. Other sustainability projects that have been completed in the past include solar powered phone chargers, energy efficient hand dryers, and an outdoor classroom. Berry said she is most proud of “the number of students who take my class or join the Sustainability Club who go on to make a difference in their everyday life by making changes that decrease their footprint on the environment.”

  Four years after starting a career at HR in 2006, Berry helped bring the sustainability program to HR, starting out with a small sustainability class. The first project the class accomplished was simply converting the school’s hallway, commons, and gym lights to more efficient LED’s. Now she is a well-awarded sustainability specialist.

  At the end of the 2016-17 school year, Berry received the DCSD secondary educator of the year award. Justin Lynn, a junior in her AP Environmental class, said, “She takes the time to work with individuals and forms relationships with her students, while also showing them what difference they can make in the real world.” The University of Colorado also recognized Berry as an “outstanding educator”. In 2016, Berry was even honored at the White House and given the presidential innovation award for environmental educators. This resulted in two $2000 grants for in-class education as well as expanding learning.

  The highly awarded science teacher creates opportunities and activities for students all over DCSD and teaches them how far their implications can go. When asked what drives her to reach such success in sustainability, Berry said, “Students can really make a difference and having practice shows the impact they can make.”

Michael deGuzman, Staff Reporter

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