Meet those leading our student leaders
Meet MarinSEL's Teachers! Jesse Madsen, MarinSEL Lead Teacher/Seminar/World Geography, 9th & 11th Grade Teagen Leonhart, MarinSEL English, 10th Grade Sara Frack, MarinSEL…
A progressive school focused on leadership and the environment
The Marin School of Environmental Leadership (MarinSEL) is comprised of students, parents and educators from Marin County and beyond who…
What's it like to be a MarinSEL student?
During the first month of every school year, MarinSEL students and teachers participate in a long weekend Leadership Retreat designed…
Project-based environmental learning
MarinSEL’s curriculum combines themes of environmental stewardship, global awareness, community service, innovative thinking, and group projects to create a uniquely…
MarinSEL Volunteer - Michelle
Our wonderful MarinSEL volunteer, Michelle, was recently honored as the Volunteer of the Week in the MarinIJ. This week, she received a letter of thanks from Assemblyman Marc Levine! We are so thankful to have Michelle as a volunteer, working behind the scenes to support our students and teachers.
LEAD Projects: Update
LEAD Projects: MarinSEL Students present their work
On December 12th and 13th 2013, in the Terra Linda high school amphitheater, the MarinSEL sophomore and freshmen classes presented their semester long Leadership and Environmental Action Development (LEAD) Projects to parents, peers, teachers and community partners. All ten individual groups presented: two garden groups, two transportation groups, two water groups, one climate group, one electric vehicle group, one waste group and one solar hot water group.
Each group introduced their goals, difficulties, accomplishments and individual reflection on the process that they, as individuals, and as a group had to go through.
The Garden Group built on last year’s success and partnered up with the Marinwood Farmers Market where group members completed internships. Older students mentored the freshmen, while the group as a whole educated the community at large on the benefits of growing, selling and buying locally. The Garden Group also partnered up with Peet's Coffee who donated coffee grounds for the enhancement of the MarinSEL garden plants.
The Sustainability Group partnered up with Marin Transit, Marin Municipal Water District and Marin Clean Energy and held a sustainability informative fair at the affordable housing company EAH. Through the activities they had planned out they were able to educate the tenants about how to bring about positive changes for the environment with very little impact on their daily lives.
The Transportation Group focused on finding innovative ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the Terra Linda High Schools students. They created a carpool website, a walk and bike to school day, had a green car show on campus, and distributed raffle tickets to participants. Over 200 students participated in this initiative and based on the survey taken by the Group, almost all participants indicated that this effort has inspired them to opt for better and greener transportation.
The Waste Reduction Group had three goals: To make composting available on campus, to install hand dryers in the school's bathrooms, and to place recycling bins on campus in strategic areas. The group organized a compost day during which they collected over 16 pounds of compost, to be used in the MarinSEL Garden. They discovered that each day about 3-6 pounds of paper towels are used in each bathroom of the school, and researched the most cost-efficient hand dryers on the market. Finally, they looked for the best recycling bins available, and with a 3D map of the school found the best strategic areas where to place these bins for everyone to use easily. They partnered up with Marin Sanitary, the School Board, and the janitorial staff at Terra Linda High and worked directly with the Principal.
The Water & Hydration Station Group's main goal was to install water refill stations on campus to reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles, and encourage the use of reusable bottles. They partnered up with the Marin Municipal Water District to inform and educate the students as well as the school administration. They also undertook a student survey, including a campus-wide plastic bottle audit, and as the result of a fundraising campaign received free reusable bottles to sell on campus. Their research proved that FLO water refill stations are cost-beneficial not only to Terra Linda High School, but for all students since a refill would cost only 25 cents. They hope that these stations will be installed on campus in the near future.
The Garden Group’s main goal was to tend to the school garden and harvest produce to sell at the Marinwood farmer’s market. They worked with Heritage Landscapes and Agricultural Community Events to maintain the garden and improve its infrastructure, update the sellers’ certification, harvest and sell remaining fall produce and plant seeds and starters for winter crops. Along with maintaining the contents of the garden, they also made new sign for garden and repainted the raised beds. During project week they created mini-greenhouses over each raised bed to protect the crops from frost.
The Solar Hot Water Group worked with Sun Water Solar to promote solar hot water heating at local community pools. In order to do this, the students performed a site assessment of the Lucas Valley Community pool and create a feasibility report for a solar hot water installation there. The students presented to the Lucas Valley Home Owner’s Association board on their findings and available rebates. Using the results of their Lucas Valley study, the group then reached out to other community pools to community their research and findings.
The Electric Vehicle Group’s goal was to promote the use of electric vehicles in Marin County. The group partnered with the Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association to promote electric vehicles at the Marin Plug In day in September. Along with the GGEVA and Adopt a Charger the students worked to promote the proposed charging station at the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitors Center by presenting to community members and stakeholders. During project week the students wrote grants requesting funds from the Transportation Authority of Marin and County of Marin to help support this installation.
The Transportation Group worked with Safe Routes to School to host a Walk and Bike to school week at Dixie Elementary. To kick off the week and get kids excited they ran an assembly on green transportation. Each day during project week the students tallied class transportation modes and awarded a pizza party to the winning classroom. The students also helped form “walking buses” to school in the morning, which helped promote the personal health and community aspect of walking to school.
The Bay Water Quality Group worked to assess local water quality and educate 8th graders at Miller Creek about pharmaceuticals in water. The students worked with Marin Central Sanitation Agency to collect and test water samples from various locations in Marin for pharmaceuticals and other basic water quality parameters. The students used their research to create a lesson on water quality and pharmaceuticals and taught 8th grade science classes at Miller Creek Middle School.
One reflective theme that all groups shared was the difficulty of communicating with one another and the partners. Each group had to come up with creative ways to counter these communication glitches, and as a result most participants benefited of a great learning curve not only in their specific area of interest, but also in communication skills.
Message from the Executive Director: Beyond Grades
Going Beyond Grades
For most students, success in school is defined by the five letter grades, ‘A’ through ‘F’. These standardized measurements aim to define varying levels of student achievement, yet they are woefully limiting. Letter grades automatically rank students and drive them to focus on the product rather than the process, where learning occurs. They can also de-motivate students and increase their anxiety. Even more, grades can be an inaccurate measure that does not represent student learning.
In MarinSEL we emphasize the process and development of student learning. And for MarinSEL students, success means exceeding their own expectations. Rather than just completing an assignment for a letter grade, turning it in and being done with it, students are encouraged to explore and implement additional strategies that add value to their work and learning.
We recognize that the problems, issues and tasks our students will continue to address in school and in the working world are endless and varied. Life beyond school, no matter where it takes us, is not about getting grades, or checking off boxes on standardized tests. It requires that we apply the important skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration to dynamic problems and solutions. And the desire to make positive changes and contributions in the world entails that we go above and beyond the norm. A life well-lived is about being satisfied with the process and the product, and having fun at the same time.
Executive Director, School of Environmental Leadership
LEAD Projects: Student View
January 2014 – Student View
By: Ines Gueneau
What’s it like being in a LEAD Project in MarinSEL?
“I wanted an education that encouraged me to do more than just meet requirements. I am in MarinSEL because it genuinely prepares me for the ‘real world’ that I will soon be a part of.” (Angelique Avanozian, MarinSEL Sophomore). In MarinSEL, to challenge our capability to communicate, think critically, collaborate, and be creative, we participate in semester-long projects on each of the following environmental themes: transportation, energy, water, waste, food, and climate change. The real question is, how can one improve the environment and solve these major issues in only one semester?
This semester, I was part of the Transportation group, where our goal was to reduce carbon emissions and the traffic congestion around the Terra Linda High School campus. We wanted to focus primarily on our school and convince them to consider green transportation. To raise awareness, our group organized a “Green Car Show” in which we presented four different models of modern electric vehicles (with help from the Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association), showcased a bike blender, set up a carpool poster, and had “transportation awareness” activities. About 300 students from our school stopped by! In cooperation with the Safe Routes to School agency, we organized three “walk and bike to school” days as well and rewarded the students with hot chocolate and prizes. By the end of the semester, we calculated the increase of student walkers and bikers and noticed that our events had motivated students to use green transportation.
In the future, we hope to design a carpool website using the information from our poster, secure alternative fuel vehicle parking on the Terra Linda High School campus, and introduce the positives and the social aspects of green transportation to all students.
Another LEAD project involved reducing water waste. The group worked all semester long to install a hydration station, reduce plastic water bottle usage on campus, and educate students as to why they should conserve water. As expected, they ran into numerous difficulties along the way - some easier to overcome than others. For example, scheduling became an issue when they had to find time for a meeting with the key decision makers of Flo Water (a new company that makes hydration stations for students to refill their reusable water bottles with fresh, filtered water conveniently at selective locations around the school) and discuss how they would go about installing Flo Water at our school. Another difficulty they faced was time management. The students wanted to present the concept of water conservation to Vallecito fourth graders so that they grow up with that ingrained in the back of their minds. Unfortunately, they did not realize how much time was actually needed to set up the presentation. On a positive note, the group succeeded in having MMWD (Marin Municipal Water District) come to Terra Linda and present to freshmen health classes about water conservation. Overall the project was a great success, it taught the group how to collaborate, show responsibility, professionalism, and time management.
These were just two of ten various projects the MarinSEL students were working on this semester. We hope to continue these projects and pass them along so that it will soon spread to the community, then the city, county, state, country, and hopefully one day, we can be the young students who have successfully impacted the world and influenced people around us. Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist, once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has” and this quote has pushed many of us to persevere in our work at this school.