New environmental education position a first for school district

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By LB Indy Staff

Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) has created a new teaching position to incorporate environmental literacy education across all disciplines this school year. 

Gloria Harwood and a student launch a two-liter rocket bottle during LBUSD’s summer enrichment program. Photo/LBUSD

Gloria Harwood, Thurston Middle School’s science teacher, will take on the role of Environmental Literacy Coordinator.

“I am inspired by LBUSD’s dedication to environmental literacy and sustainability and its mission to cultivate a generation of environmentally conscious leaders,” Harwood said. “I am excited to leverage my expertise in curriculum development, instructional leadership, environmental policy, and advocacy to develop a comprehensive and impactful environmental literacy program to create engaging and inclusive learning experiences that empower students to become environmental stewards.” 

Harwood has a masters degree in environmental studies and is enrolled in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program at CSUF, focused on using GIS technology to capture, analyze, and visualize geospatial data to gain insights into spatial patterns and relationships. 

As the environmental literacy coordinator, Harwood will collaborate with the director of facilities and sustainability to carry out LBUSD’s Sustainability Plan and California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) across all schools to help students understand and experience the interconnectedness of people and place.

“Students, teachers, and schools are essential in catalyzing innovative solutions needed to meet the climate emergency at this moment. With LBUSD investing in a dedicated coordinator for environmental literacy, this will provide schools with districtwide support to address the urgency of the climate crisis in culturally relevant ways for and with the Laguna Beach community,” UC-CSU Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Projects (ECCLPs) Executive Director Kelley Lê said. “ECCLPs is looking forward to partnering with LBUSD’s coordinator to help advance PK-12 climate and environmental literacy and action.”

Each school in the district has received a stipend to establish a “Green Team” to support its goal of reducing carbon emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The teams will serve as a conduit for districtwide sustainability work, working with Harwood to support recycling and composting programs, water consumption, food waste, energy conservation and environmental stewardship. 

“Environmental literacy provides students with the building blocks to understand the interconnectedness of the world around them and the ripple effect of their actions on the ecosystems they live in,” LBUSD Superintendent Jason Viloria said. “It empowers students to be stewards of the Earth and shape a more sustainable future.”

The coordinator is a teaching position and will support instructional and operational sustainability work in LBUSD, partnering with local government, environmental education providers and community-based organizations to enhance the district’s environmental literacy and sustainability practices. More about LBUSD’s sustainability goals can be found at www.lbusd.org/sustainability

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