Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Congratulations to Mike Town for winning the NEA Foundation's first ever Green Prize

One of my favorite high school teachers, who I've always believed is one of the most innovative and pioneering educators of his generation, was today honored by the NEA Foundation as the recipient of its first ever Green Prize.

Mike Town, fifty one, was presented with the award and an accompanying $25,000 check this morning at Redmond High School's performing arts center by the grandson of one of his heroes, Philippe Cousteau. During his career as a teacher, Town has taught thousands of Mustangs — including yours truly — about conservation, pollution, waste treatment, energy use, the climate crisis, and pretty much every other topic falling under environmental science that an activist could think of. It's not an exaggeration to say he's a living legend.

And that's because he doesn't just teach. He inspires.

His students know that he's walking proof that each of us has the power to lead more sustainable lives. He and his wife Meg (also a teacher at RHS) live in a solar-powered house in east King County; they grow much of their own food themselves and they commute to work in a hybrid. When Town is not at RHS, he is often exploring Washington's wilderness or advocating for its protection; he worked incredibly hard for many years to make Wild Sky a reality.

Three years ago, in collaboration with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, he developed the Cool Schools Challenge, an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of schools here in the Pacific Northwest and across the United States.

Around one hundred and fifty schools have taken up the challenge so far, saving an estimated 1.7 million pounds of carbon.

RHS has led the way, reducing its own emissions by about 200,000 pounds, and saving the Lake Washington School District tens of thousands of dollars in the process. Posters inside and outside of classrooms remind students, faculty, and visitors of the school's commitment to environmental protection.

The Redmond Reporter and The Seattle Times each have their own coverage of the award ceremony, for readers who are interested in learning more.

On behalf the entire NPI team, I'd like to offer my congratulations to Mike Town and salute him for his many years of outstanding service to Redmond High School. He will be missed when he is in our nation's capital next year working for the National Science Foundation. It's a good thing that fellowship is only for one year!


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