Just keep swimming

Beyond the Curb


Andrea Suarez Falken, director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, left; Carl Brown, Manatee Elementary principal; Marcia Booth, Manatee Elementary Green Committee Chair; Jennifer Forester, Manatee Elementary teacher; Shannon Daly, Manatee Elementary assistant principal; Adam Honeysett, director of state and local engagement.

My mom always thought the beach was a good place to go when you needed time to think. 

Recently, I sat on the beach for a few hours, reflecting about important things in my life, the ups and downs of life in general, and the events that had taken place in the past weeks. 

I had just come back from Washington, D.C., attending the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award ceremony, with Manatee Elementary’s principal Carl Brown, assistant principal Shannon Daly and second grade teacher and Environmental Club sponsor Jennifer Forester, to receive the award for Manatee. 

After two years of hard work getting many projects done and documenting other great programs the school has offered for years, we are able to say that Manatee Elementary is a 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, one of only two public schools in Florida to receive the award this year. It is a great accomplishment and the start of a new challenge for the school and for my group, the school’s Green Committee, who count on amazing volunteers, teachers and staff to get projects done. 

With the award, Manatee accepted the responsibility of becoming an example school, continuing to strive and look for ways to carry on and improve the school environment in regards to the three pillars used as the base for the recognition: 

• Reduce environmental impact and costs;

• Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and

• Provide environmental education, effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills and green career pathways

It is a huge task, but one that can be tackled with the support of the whole school community.

That was a very important milestone. I was able to get that job done, making room for new ideas and projects to help the school become even greener and the whole school community even more engaged in helping the environment. I feel proud of what we have achieved.

That was the highlight of the month. 

A week later, the feeling of success and joy gave way to impotence and sorrow.  I lost my mom forever. 

The breeze and the sound of the waves made me agree with her: that is a calming place, a good spot to visit when you are looking for peace and to clear your mind. As I found out in the end, that is also a good place to reenergize and gather strength to just keep swimming.