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RiSC Partner Schools

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Suzanne Hanafy

High School for Climate Justice (2021 -  )

320 East 96th Street, New York, NY 10128

I’m a special education teacher at the newly named High School for Climate Justice. Given our new school name, we spent a great deal of time exploring the numerous climate focused programs offered in NYC.  When I learned about the RiSC program, I felt it would be an incredible opportunity to show students the connection between equity and climate justice. I’m really excited for my students to be a part of this program, where they can not only learn about issues affecting their local communities, but also take on an active role in bringing about positive change. Resiliency education is so crucial in that it focuses on what we can actually do. I believe giving students that sense of meaning and value is the best hope we have for our future as we face climate change. 

Sofia Di Bari

Abraham Lincoln High School (2020 -  )

2800 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11235

Learning about the science behind the environment in which we live has always been a passion of mine. Before moving to Brooklyn to teach high school students, I studied Geology, Meteorology and Earth Science and worked with college students in these fields. In my off time, I gravitate towards activities that have allowed me to explore these topics more freely such as hiking and camping.  The environment is not just my job: it is a part of who I am. 

I believe that teaching climate change and resilience is vital for our current and future life on this planet. Since the weather impacts our day-to-day activities, studying it and understanding it should never be up for negotiation. As educators, we must do a better job on an individual, community and societal level, and that change needs to happen asap. 

The RiSC program is the best step forward. It provides an engaging, welcoming way for all students to engage with these scientific topics while ensuring that the activities stay rigorous and scientifically accurate. I am looking forward to implementing this program at my school. 

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Tim Hitchcock

PS/IS, Shirley Tanyhill School  (2020 - )

2950 West 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I first learned about the RiSC program through other environmental education programs that I actively participate in.

I attended a conference presented by Andrew Zimmermann in Jamaica Bay in which he laid out a lot of the RiSC framework and was immediately impressed with the program overview, the organization, and overall plans for pushing climate resilience education. I had met Andrew years earlier working as a cohort for the Billion Oyster Project and know his level of dedication to systemic educational change. I live and work in communities that have been profoundly impacted by climate change and desperately require the need for resilience education if they are to recover and prosper. This includes all residents, including youth whose voices and ideas are often overlooked despite the fact that they will bear the brunt of any actions (or lack thereof) to establish coastal resilience plans and deal with future climate change issues. For the past two decades, I have been working with my students to address the social, environmental, and political issues facing their community. The RiSC program provides hope for establishing a strong framework for those types of opportunities to continue for future students and educators.

Kristine Sullivan-Mestecky

IS 303, Herbert S. Eisenberg  (2020 -  )

501 West Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I was motivated to join the RiSC program to make a difference in our community and to spread, not just awareness, but knowledge about the issues that are affecting us now, and will affect us in the future. I also believe that action is the real difference, and who better to lead the action, than the people teaching about it.

It is important to teach students about climate change and resilience because students need to be made aware of the issues that are plaguing them and will ultimately affect their lives. Students must be made aware of the issues that surround them, how to handle them, and jump in to take care of them now. Having teachers to guide them and help them think critically about these issues, will help them be more responsible adults.

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Mary Lu

IS 228, David A. Boody JHS  (2017 -  )

228 Avenue S, Brooklyn, NY 11223

The concept of resiliency and increasing literacy about climate change brought me to the RiSC program. What motivates me to continue in this program is being part of a change that students are setting forth with their ideas about resiliency in our city. Their engagement in the program inspires me to be a more active citizen in resiliency changes.

Jia Kelly Li

John Dewey HS   (2021 -  )

50 Avenue X, Brooklyn, NY 11223

I am from California so I grew up with the idea of limited resources such as water and conservancy from the community as a response. The concept that communities and environments can impact each other negatively or positively has always been a central part of education. I have joined other programs before to help build resiliency for California and I was pleasantly surprised when I learned similar programs exist in New York City as well. My desire to join the RiSC program increased each time I received news of flooding, hurricanes, sea level rises, riptides, and etc. because I believe in positive interactions of communities and ecosystems. Believing that we can influence and change the world based on our actions, however tiny it may be, is essential in starting the change and RiSC is a program that does exactly that: it sparks the confidence and belief that our actions matter and that we can direct the change. 

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Michael Luppino

John Dewey HS   (2017 - 2021)

50 Avenue X, Brooklyn, NY 11223

I teach Living Environment and AP Biology at John Dewey High School, with students ranging from grades 9 through 12. Outside of being the RiSC Leader of John Dewey High School, I am the founder of John Dewey High School's Science Magazine, The Next Generation, am a Teacher Collaborative Coach, and an Adjunct Professor at Pace University.

I believe that climate change and resiliency should be known by each and every citizen in New York City. Each citizen is aware of the sheer force of natural disasters and the impacts they have on our communities. Rising temperatures and sea levels are having devastating effects on the infrastructure of our city, and future generations must propose solutions to these pressing concerns. Many buildings were created in a time period where heavy rain or flooding was not a concern; but today creative strategies must be employed to create resilient infrastructure in buildings that are vulnerable to extreme weather in response to climate change.

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Hannah O'Leary

Rachel Carson HS   (2017 -   )

521 West Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

While I did not live in NYC during Hurricane Sandy, I was fascinated by the experiences and impact that it had on the lives of my students. When I joined the staff at Rachel Carson High School, I found out the huge impact that the storm had on our school building and learned that we were still dealing with the consequences 5 years later. Facilitating the RiSC program in Coney Island has opened my eyes to the impact that climate change has on certain communities within big cities, the environmentally destructive choices that humans make when city planning, and the enthusiasm of those fighting for change.

Climate and resiliency education is important because it helps our students to understand that the fate of our world is in their hands and that they can actively work to make their communities a safer, greener, more resilient place to live.

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Christopher Joya

MS 88, Peter Rouget  (2017 -  2020)

544 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

I wanted to join the RiSC program because I felt a need to educate my students about what is going on with the planet, and to help them realize that this is something that won't go away. Given the political climate (especially now), I really want my students to come away from this experience knowing that their voices do inspire others to act, and that they can make change where previous generations have not.

Climate change should be taught - not as a controversial topic as some state governments are deciding - but as a sound scientific theory that needs to be addressed now, or we will hit the point of no return. When others tell me that we shouldn't or can't teach it, I'm reminded of this political cartoon and an equally powerful quote: "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." What's the harm in having renewable energy sources? What's the harm in having a Green New Deal where we have a more sustainable economy and are able to preserve the Earth's biodiversity for future generations to enjoy and marvel at? At the same time, resiliency needs to be taught not only to the kids, but the adults as well. We all have one home: Earth. If we want to continue living here comfortably, we're going to have to face the hard truth that we are warming the planet, and we need to make changes to our lifestyles. Yes it'll be hard, but if we really are emphasizing resiliency in our education, we need to be able to show the next generation that we can do this, and with minimal whining about the negatives.

 

Samantha Tilts

MS 88, Peter Rouget  (2017 -  2020)

544 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

My first year teaching I found myself asking students to complete projects built around fixing systems that were broken or breaking. I was asking students to "save the world", but soon realized that they could not do so until they had fallen in love with it. Having been involved with organizations aimed at environmental reform, I soon found myself searching for a way to take the many mini-projects I had and actually fulfill some of mine, and my students’ dreams. RiSC was the perfect opportunity to take both my passion and my students’ passions and see them through. This program has given my students a voice in a time where many of them feel they don't have one. It has given them an opportunity to see their work through and feel valued in their research and knowledge. This program has given me and my students a renewed sense of hope for what we can achieve together.​

Young students are one of the most important constituents of our society. Their minds, opinions, and dreams will soon start to shape the world we live in. Students have dreams, and often go full force with their creative and ever growing minds. I truly believe that children can see things that adults sometimes cannot, and therefore can oftentimes find solutions we have written off. Climate and resiliency education gives students access to credible information that they may have had misconceptions about. It gives them the opportunity to give input into conversations that are being had across the world, and it gives them a chance to be part of the change. A lack of knowledge in this field leaves them to find whatever sources they can on their own, credible or not.

Andy Zimmermann

MS 88, Peter Rouget  (2016 -   )

544 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

I participated in the RiSC program because I see it as a pathway for mobilizing communities around climate resilience education and advocacy, particularly by promoting student voice in our city’s efforts to build resilience. The RiSC program

is a model for student empowerment in the areas of Climate Change and Resilience, a critical area of need for our city, state, and nation.

Education is an essential component of climate resilience, and for vulnerable cities such as ours, should be central to our city's strategy as we move toward a climate resilient future. Too often, youth voices are not included the decision-making processes and policies that shape their schools, neighborhoods, and lives.

Lynn Shon

MS 88, Peter Rouget  (2016 -   )

544 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

I was motivated to join RiSC because I believe teaching and learning should actively address the most pressing environmental, political, and social needs of the community it serves. RiSC has given me an opportunity to design and implement learning experiences that empower schools to build a more physically and socially resilient NYC. RiSC has also helped me grow in facilitating professional learning for teachers who want to teach climate change and resiliency.

The impacts of climate change will disproportionately impact our children and our most marginalized communities already suffering from social inequities. Climate and resiliency education is so important because it empowers our children to learn and take actions that address both risk and social injustice. Many of the solutions that will address climate change can, and will, also address social injustice. These are two of the most pressing issues facing our students and our world, and our students deserve an opportunity to have a voice and lead in this work.

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Sarah Slack

IS 223, The Montauk JHS  (2019 -2021)

4200 16th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204

Before I became a teacher, I was committed to educating people about environmental issues and inspiring them to take action. I brought that passion along with me when I started teaching here in Brooklyn. For years, we have taught students about the science behind the greenhouse effect and climate change, and most eighth graders I meet can tell you that we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels in order to save the polar bears. But I am so excited about the RiSC program because it provides students more than just the climate change basics. I love the way it challenges them to consider the specific impacts to their homes and communities and pushes them to evaluate adaptation and mitigation strategies. I also believe in the value of providing students with opportunities to learn outside the classroom and school setting. I think RiSC encapsulates all the types of things I want to do with my students, with the end result of creating informed, empowered citizens who are able to advocate for policies and actions that will protect this city in the future.​

Victor Bonini

IS 223, The Montauk JHS  (2019 - 2021)

4200 16th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204

I have seen how difficult it can be to make changes in a huge system like the DOE, but also in a community of 1,800 people in one building. There are complicated relationships between groups of people in the building and we have had limited success changing the outlook of students and staff surrounding issues with recycling, energy use, and waste. I see the RiSC program as an opportunity for motivated students to become champions in this community and have an impact on others in their lives. Students will succeed here and their improved ability to communicate small issues at first, then larger more complex issues to larger audiences, will allow them to fulfill their potential.

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Britney Golembe

IS 239, Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented   (2017-2019)

2401 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I was motivated to participate in this program because I thought it was the perfect addition to our science and nature program called Young Naturalists. This program gives students an opportunity to connect with science and nature in a hands on and collaborative way. Such ideals are also critical in the RiSC program and therefore students can use what they know and are learning in order make change .

Out of this experience I have been able to show my students that although they are young, they have the ability to make a difference and play a role in helping climate change. I have also been blessed with the ability to connect with other educators who have the same hopes and goals.

I believe our hope for a better Earth depends on how we treat it now and in the future, and our students are the future. By helping to educate them on these issues, we are ensuring that they will work towards making positive changes and developing leadership skills to teach others the same .

Resiliency education ensures that these critical concepts are taught, as middle school curriculum doesn’t even address it . Middle school truly is a major part of formative learning and by educating these children on the topic at this level we are helping to invest in not only their future but ours as well.

Aimee Villacres

IS 239, Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented   (2017-2019)

2401 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

I have witnessed severe climate events, especially in the last 10 years, and wanted to become a part of something that could help to educate my students. I wanted to be part of a program like RISC that would get them more involved in combating climate change and building resiliency.

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Roberto Lòpez

K 525, Edward R. Murrow HS (2017-2019)

1600 Avenue L, Brooklyn, NY 11230

I was motivated to join the RiSC program due to the destructive effect that Super Storm Sandy had on the Rockaways. I saw my childhood neighborhood torn to shreds and then I learned that these storms have been intensified due to climate change. This is why I decided to join the RiSC team, to raise awareness about climate change. Through RiSC I have learned a lot about small things that can be done in the school community to take a step forward in making NYC sustainable.  

I think climate and resiliency education is important especially for NYC students because we live in a society where information is prevalent (albeit false or real). Our future generations are entitled to scientifically sound information and they should be able to apply this information to make their immediate community a better place while living in harmony with our Earth.