Just when I have been grizzling about the difficulty of attracting a reasonable share of our most able young people into teaching, a fantastic local project emerged.
We, at Ponsonby News, learned that a young teacher at Richmond Road School, Sacha Connolly, has developed an amazing sustainability project with her young students. Beginning last year, this vivacious fifth year teacher looked into ways to change her students’ perceptions of food wastage. Sacha had been a chef (“cook really“, she said) on oceangoing super yachts before she went teaching, and she sought to make small changes in the children’s ideas about not wasting food. She had seen environmental degradation on tiny atolls, often covered in plastic.
Wild Wheat donated lots of bread, and the students made French toast, croutons, bread and butter pudding. They made sourdough bread too, from spent grain from local brewery Urbanaut. They also made yoghurt from stale milk.
Sacha Connolly took her students to local Good For store in Williamson Avenue to look into waste-free lunch options. They stock lots of yummy, healthy snacks and staples. Students brought their own containers from home to weigh and fill and had a fabulous time.
Next they worked on creating Drain Art, creating beautiful ocean creatures. Sixteen students were selected to design eight creatures around the eight main school drains. This creative activity was to remind us that our drains flow straight to the ocean and only water should go down them! The photo shows Penelope Peterson-McNeil, Billy Atkinson and Oliver Cobel working on their fabulous sea creatures.
Another photo shows five of Sacha’s boys attending to the school vegetable garden.
Sacha Connolly is proud to have been chosen by the Sir Peter Blake Trust’s “Blake Inspire” to take part in a week long environmental education and leadership development programme.
There are a number of projects planned for this year, including working with AT on the innovating street projects. Another project will see the students growing mushrooms out of spent grain, and planting a Maori medicinal garden.
These are all ‘sunrise’ activities, and I expect the projects will give students ample opportunity to measure, weigh and improve their mathematics, vigorous oral and written expression, art, healthy living generally, and taking more care of the one and only earth we have.
Sacha aims to keep raising the consciousness of her students, a little at a time. They will undertake a project that slipped through the net last year because of Covid-19, making meals for the homeless this year.
Part of the reward, Sacha hopes, is to raise the awareness of ‘gratitude’ among the children she teaches. “We are well off,” she says, but many kids don’t even have a roof over their heads, let alone enough food to eat.
Congratulations Sacha and Richmond Road School. We, at Ponsonby News are thoroughly proud of the valuable work you are doing in our midst. (John Elliott)
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