A Kansas City, KS, teacher is getting a lot of positive attention for including green living in his education that allows students a hands-on approach to bettering our planet.
At F.L. Schlagle High School there's something special going on inside the classroom and out.
Dom DeRosa wants his students to get a little dirty because working in the dirt is in his blood.
"My grandparents were farmers, my parents have always had gardens, got it from scouts, doing environmental projects in scouts," DeRosa, a teacher, said.
He started the program Project Green Team to teach students and staff how to reduce the school's carbon footprint. One of the many ways they do that is by planting a garden.
DeRosa is being recognized for his work after the Environmental Protection Agency announced he's won a presidential innovation award.
"They called me two weeks ago and said, ‘you're one of 11 in the nation to be named as a presidential award winner' and I was like, ‘really?' It blew me away. I'm still kind of flying on excitement," DeRosa said.
His students think it's pretty cool too.
"It's really great. He's like a really awesome teacher," student Michael Fernandez said.
With a passion for the planet, DeRosa has strived for years to plant environmental education into his science classes. He also started the school's recycling program. His Green Team students planted trees in front of the high school, which will eventually provide shade and lower the school's electric bill.
Some of the fruit and vegetables that will come out of their garden will go to the school cafeteria and the rest will be sold at a farmer's market to help sustain the program.
The teacher's program is getting a lot of attention.
"Been getting phone calls from the state department of education, from K-State, KU congratulating me and I'm like, ‘wow, how do you know who I am? I'm just a teacher in Kansas City, KS,'" DeRosa said.
Despite the positive attention, DeRosa said he wants the focus to be on the students.
"Too many times KCK kids get a bad rep. This is a good rep and we want to see the good things coming out of Wyandotte County because I'm a Wyandotte County kid and we want to see what's good from this county because there's a lot of good here," he said.
In addition to receiving the Presidential Innovation Award, DeRosa has been asked to speak at an upcoming conference where he'll train other teachers how to become more effective environmental teachers.
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