I became a mother in 2010, but I have had kids since 2003 when I began teaching high school science. People used to laugh when I told them about my 100+ kids because I was only 22 years old!
During our 84-minute science classes, I think of each student as my child. I want to protect them just as I want to protect my own child. Though I teach a variety of science subjects, I’m probably most passionate about environmental science. I try to model what I believe instead of just lecturing about environmental topics. I carry a stainless steel water bottle, try to reduce my paper handouts, and focus on reducing chemical waste produced in our laboratory investigations. I don’t just encourage my students to become environmental activists, I have become an activist myself.
I want my students to have bright and healthy futures, and I tell them so. I expect them to speak up to protect themselves and their families from polluters. I want the world to be safe for them, and I want them to take responsibility for the health of our planet.
The great thing about teaching teenagers is that they aren’t as cynical as adults often can be. They believe that they can truly make a difference, that they can make the world a better place. They are so optimistic, it is inspiring for me to watch them talk about cleaning up pollution and increasing the quality of life for people all around the world. Groups like Teens Turning Green, Student Environmental Action Coalition and Sierra Student Coalition, offer opportunities for teens to become activists.
In the nine years that I have been teaching, I estimate that I have taught over 900 students. These kids, my kids, deserve to live in a world with clean air. They deserve to be able to go outside and enjoy activities without worrying about asthma or allergies. They deserve to be able to grow up and have their own healthy children, and not have to worry about the harmful effects of mercury in the environment.
I joined Moms Clean Air Force because I am a mom, but I’m also here because I’m a teacher. I’m not just fighting for clean air for my son, I’m also protecting hundreds of other kids.
Photo: Abbie Walston