For this month, EarthTeam is delighted to honor Nea Community Learning Center’s Mr. Nga Nguyen as Teacher of the Month. His dedication to learner accountability, youth empowerment, and green responsibility are markers of his passion and special knack for teaching. Mr. Nguyen (aka “The Star Wars Guy”) has been at Nea since its inception, 3 years now, and has been teaching for over 15 years. He has taught younger and older students, ranging from grades 1 and 2 through middle and high school, in subjects such as math, science, and Japanese culture. At Nea, he leads the Green Team, a group of environmentally-conscious learners, grades 6-10.
Recently, the Green Team participated in a waste audit and action-planning session with EarthTeam. His 16 learners sorted through 8 bags of trash, finding their waste stream composed mainly of paper (57%). During the action-planning visit, the learners worked in small groups to create mind-maps based on their waste audit findings. This work, as well as a subsequent waste audit, will be presented to the school and custodial service to garner more 4R buy-in from the entire campus. “We are striving to create a responsible, green community.”
Mr. Nguyen also leads Nea’s parent/teacher Green Team Committee, a dedicated group of Nea community members who discuss the ‘past, present, and future of green activities’ on campus. His intent for both the staff and learners at Nea is to broaden their awareness of how costly and wasteful living a first world lifestyle can be. He says: The motto of our class is a Ghandi quote, "Live simply so that others may simply live." When asked what green-related projects he’s now working on, Mr. Nguyen stated that he’s in the ongoing process of “placing the seeds of ‘better living’ in the learners' minds and souls,” which includes the correct and proper disposal of waste. In April, they will be having their 2nd annual Green Festival. Additionally, as Nea is so close to the Alameda Beach, they’ll be conducting a beach clean-up day, allowing the learners to embody their environmental consciousness beyond the classroom walls and view and interact with the spaces they inhabit as lifelong environmental stewards and change-agents.