Students watering plantsEllis Elementary School is a school focused on sustainability, and as part of Earth Week initiatives, students were selected by their classroom teachers to form an eco-team. The students were led by Heather Meek, instructional technology coach and sustainability coordinator, to plant vegetables with Jeanne Jabara, energy education coordinator, for the PWCS Energy Management and Sustainability Team (EMAST). Jabara talked to students about composting and how to reduce food waste, planting vegetables, and the importance of taking care of the earth. Students cleared raised flower beds, planted seeds, and took measurements of existing plants and watered them.

As sustainability coordinator, Meek helps Ellis Elementary participate in the EMAST School Energy Challenge. Schools that participate in the challenge focus on promoting pathways to sustainability to earn points towards a rebate from EMAST.

One way Ellis has promoted sustainability at their school is by signing up with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and devising an energy action plan for the school. Ellis planned a waste audit to analyze their trash at school and see where they could increase their efforts to reduce trash and recycle. To conduct the waste audit, custodial staff held some of the trash that could be sorted that was generated in a school day. Unsortable trash that needed to be disposed of was weighed before being taken to the dumpster. Students set up tarps in the gymnasium and sorted the trash into different piles of what could have been recycled, such as paper, cardboard, and plastic. The NWF awarded Ellis the bronze award for their efforts to reduce their waste.

Currently, Ellis has plans to conduct an energy audit by the end of the school year in order to obtain the NWF's silver award. Jabara will provide a checklist and visit the school to help students conduct the energy audit. Meek shared that students will focus on answering questions such as, "How many rooms do we walk into that are not being used but the light switch is on? What kind of energy do we use here at Ellis? How can we use energy more efficiently?" Students will help brainstorm ideas of ways to improve energy consumption. Meek will then submit their action plan to the NWF for consideration for the silver award.

In addition to their current sustainability initiatives, Ellis was also selected by Jabara to start a composting project in the 2021-22 school year