Valery Lynn And Natalia Skolnik

May 2013
Irvington High School

This semester EarthTeam had the privilege to work with two of Irvington High School’s star teachers! These instructors have shown how passionate they are about the environment and their students. Ms. Lynn and Ms Skolnik collaborated together to bring the Waste Action Project to over a hundred students on campus. These two wonderful women started the program off by collected a week’s worth of Irvington waste on campus to start awareness on campus about how much trash their school was sending to the landfill. They both participated in the two day long marathon of waste audits and had meaningful discussions and words of encouragement with each of their groups of students. They also have dedicated themselves to help their passionate students with their waste reduction action plans. Irvington High School teacher and student initiatives have definitely reinforced Irvington’s title as the one of the ‘Greenest Schools in America’. - EarthTeam

Natalia Skolnik
"I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in English and minor in Ethnic Studies. Working in the public sector and nonprofit world for a few years after graduation, introduced me to deeper and more realistic concepts of environmental sustainability than I had seen in college. After going on a service learning trip to El Salvador, I decided to quit my job and apply to teaching programs. I earned my teaching credential and later M.S. in Educational Leadership from CSU East Bay.

I believe education can be the key to combating the most destructive aspects of society (i.e. climate change, bigotry, violence, etc) and making positive change possible. A meaningful education needs include putting ideas into action. When we design curriculum to be project based and about things students see as tangible, I find students are more accountable to each other, their community and it absolutely strengthens their academic identites. In short, students work much harder when they can see it matters. Doing projects with Earthteam like their Waste Audit, taking students to the LEAF conferences, participating and presenting in community forums, and creating projects that foster sustainability and civic responsibility helps students to do this. I have enjoyed my nine years working at Irvington High School, where this school strives to teach students to be their best selves."

Valery Lynn
"I earned my BS from Purdue University in entomology and agriculture. I spent a year in Pakistan teaching at the International School of Islamabad. After that, I went to Cornell University to earn a Master’s degree in science education with a minor in environmental education. At Cornell, I worked as the assistant director for a stream ecology monitoring project designed to be implemented by teachers. This has inspired me to continue to work, as a teacher, to increase community involvement and protection of the environment through service learning. I’ve been teaching at Irvington High School for three years: biology, AP biology, and biotechnology. Before that I taught science at the juvenile hall in San Mateo. I have always loved science and once I was bitten by the teaching bug there has been nothing else for me! Every day I feel like the luckiest girl in the world – I get paid to do what I love, I get to have fun every day, and I get to help better the world with some of the best people on the planet. Thank you Earth Team!"