Michelle Espino

December 2012
Castlemont High School

Last month EarthTeam had the honor of working with Michelle Espino, an English instructor at Castlemont High as a part of the Waste Action Program. Ms. Espino attended UC Santa Cruz where she received a B.A. in Feminist Studies with an emphasis in culture, power & representation as well as law, politics & social change & an M.A. in Education. EarthTeam staff came in contact with Ms. Espino while on the Castlemont campus and knew her passion for teaching would be a driving force in empowering her students to be leaders. Even though her classes are small in size they are all full of passion. During the waste audit at Castlemont, one of her classes, that was less than ten students, sorted through more waste than an average large class would have sorted through. The students were overflowing with excitement and ideas for their campus as Ms. Espino encouraged them to be the change they want to see in their community, constantly reminding them that they are fully capable of making a difference. Now these same students are spearheading a brand new recycling program on campus. Right after finishing the Waste Action Project (WAP) classroom visits, Ms. Espino received a $1,000 grant to help their efforts.

Ms. Espino feels that “My classrooms involvement with WAP is part of a larger action project around fostering civic engagement opportunities for students. I want students to see themselves as active members of the community whose voice, opinions, and actions count equally as others & to recognize themselves as agents of change. We have identified our schools absence of a recycling program as part of a larger community issue around lack of awareness & lack of action in terms of environmental justice. We feel that by taking this project on we can increase awareness around issues of sustainability that affect us not only at school, but within our local community as well. We also just received a grant for $1000 to help us kick of our campaign. I think we will use the money to buy rollers so that we can collect the recycling easier, as well as paint so that we can decorate bins along with other supplies. This week along with reading short stories students will be doing SORTS on the 4Rs & environmental vocab, designing 4R posters & doing a gallery walk on the trash vortex.”