Math teacher retiring, but hopes ‘Green’ footprint will linger

Math teacher Sue Green believes that “we all have a responsibility to keep the earth clean,” and has been proving this through her 19 years teaching at Holmes Junior High. During these years, which will be coming to an end at the end of this year as she is retiring, Green started a “Green movement,” a movement that was started at Holmes, but can be used anywhere. The “Green movement” benefits teachers and students at Holmes and, of course, the planet.

Green’s interest in the planet first sprouted when she was in high school. Her advanced biology teacher was very positive and “inspired our whole class to be more environment friendly.”

When Green arrived at Holmes after teaching at Clinton High School for 18 years, Holmes had no trees near the classroom windows and there was no air conditioning at the school. So, in the early months of the school year the classrooms’ temperatures were getting up to 85-90 degrees.

Green started the Holmes Tree Committee. The goal was to have the students plant the trees to keep the school cooler. The tree planting became very popular with the kids, and they had so much fun that Green and the students continued the tree planting, and with the help from Black Hawk Country’s Green Scene, the students were able to plant 165 trees over the last 17 years.

Using grant funding from the Black Hawk County’s Green Scene, every year the students plant a tree on Arbor day that is given to Holmes by the Green Scene.

Students really enjoy the annual planting of the trees and often bring the love for the environment home. “Sometimes students will encourage their parents to plant trees, so they can also help. One time a kid planted a tree at school, and then he went home and asked his dad if he could plant one at home. That very same day, they went out at bought a tree,” Green said.

Green also started the Bicycle Club at Holmes, where kids are rewarded with bananas, pencils and gift cards to Bike Tech for riding their bike to school every Friday.

The women’s physical education teacher Lauren Bauer also helps welcome the students in the morning with a warm smile and a banana or pencil. She will be taking over the “Green legacy,” when Sue retires.

The bicycle club is highly participated in, and students love getting outside and being rewarded for it. “I  bike to school almost every day, and I try to bike all the way up until the first snowfall,” said Charis Crozier, a seventh grade Holmes bicycle club participant.

Crozier also enjoys the banana that he receives when he arrives at school. “I don’t usually eat breakfast, so the banana gives me a chance to eat in the morning, which is helpful,” Crozier said.

Most of the kids that are part of bicycle club are not only biking every Friday for the treat, but every day for the exercise and the time to hang out with friends. “I bike to school because it’s fun and it gives me freedom and I just love biking. There are lots of benefits such as exercise, freedom and hanging out with friends,” said Colin Seeks, a Seventh grade Holmes bicycle club participant.

Along with improving the environment and installing clubs and committees at Holmes for the students, Green has also done simple deeds that will benefit the teachers and staff. She established a recycling location in the teacher’s lounge for the teachers to recycle their magazines and newspapers. Along with that, she purchased a cheap set of metal silverware to be used in the teacher’s lounge.

One may wonder if the name Green has any connection to Green’s love for the planet. It may just be fate or coincidental that her surname is Green, but she uses it to her advantage now. “Having the last name of Green makes it easier to promote being more environmental friendly. A few years ago, when we had a weekend family reunion, I bought plastic plates to use for all of our meals (the ones you can reuse). When some of the relatives asked why we weren’t using paper, I just replied with the last name of Green. We need to live up to our last name,” Green said.

Green finds ways to make the Earth a cleaner place to live in outside of school as well. Because she lives six miles outside of Cedar Falls, she said, “My husband and I try to limit the number of trips we make into Cedar Falls by ‘bundling up’ our errands. We also bike to town as often as we can. I usually average biking 30-40 trips into Cedar Falls each year rather than driving. It is 12 miles each round trip, so the miles do add up,” Green said. Most days she is able to bike to school and keeps her bicycle in the classroom, ready to bike home after school.

Green said she hopes to leave her footprint at Holmes, by encouraging students to do better and be better. “If everyone made the effort to pick up trash they see, whether they are walking to school, around town, through a park or across a parking lot, the earth would be a better place,” Green said.

After Green retires, she plans on visiting Holmes to make sure trees are still being planted and to visit teachers and students. Green said she hopes that her efforts will progress further at Holmes and the Cedar Falls School buildings and that steps will be taken to make it a more “green” place for all.

“The school district could start using regular silverware rather that the plastic silverware that is thrown away. Also, the cafeteria needs to establish a composting area for the table scraps,” Green said.

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