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Happy End of School Year!

Happy end of school year to all our teachers and school administrators out there! We really appreciate all your hard work educating our community. In a year like no other, we are so grateful for your dedication to teach students during this challenging time adapting your classrooms to fit into both virtual and hybrid learning environments. 

As we move into the summer months, we are hopeful for the beginning of our next school year where classes can be taught in-person. Therefore, we want to help you come back to school with "greener than ever" waste reduction practices in your classroom and on your campus. As you are planning your curriculum or preparing your campus for the next school year, in between resting and relaxing this summer, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to share with you our resources such as our waste reduction and natural resources awareness curriculum, interactive games, campus-wide waste assessment checklist, recycling and compost bin stickers. 

We hope that you have a wonderful summer with family and friends! We look forward to working with all of you next school year! 

The Office of Sustainability (OOS) Schools Program Team


From left to right:
Gerald Schwartz, Collette Sanchez and Kamille Lang 
OOS Schools Program
FREE Resources for the Fall

For school administrators and custodial staff, we offer a variety of services and resources to improve campus-wide waste reduction programs, such as signage, waste assessments, and technical advice. 

For teachers and students, we offer 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot-compost) lessons and activities that inspire young people to take action to conserve resources and protect our environment. 

Below is a list of our free educational offerings:

  • Assistance with developing a unit plan of study in resource conservation and the 4R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot-Compost)
  • 5E's resource conservation and waste reduction lesson plans with step by step instructions and student activity sheets aligned to Next Generation Science Standards
  • Student-facing activities with accompanying video clips such as making a tote bag from old T-shirts  
  • Virtual K-12th grade interactive classroom presentations on the 4R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot - compost), worm composting, waste reduction, and plastic pollution prevention  
  • Online interactive and take-home 4R's Unit Games 
  • Assistance with becoming a certified Green Star School classroom based on the actions that students can take at home. 
If you are interested in any of the above free resources and services, please contact us at, subject line:
Schools Program or visit our website.
Learning By Playing - Let's Make Every Day Earth Day!

The Office of Sustainability Schools Program team partnered with staff from RethinkWaste for a busy month of April full of virtual Earth Day celebrations with students and teachers in Costano School in East Palo Alto and Baywood Elementary School in San Mateo. Through interactive games, we promoted the message, “Let’s make every day Earth Day!” by practicing the 4R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot-Compost. We facilitated Waste Reduction Jeopardy, Pictionary, Scavenger Hunt, and Memory Game so students could learn by playing. Together with RethinkWaste staff and the teachers at these local elementary schools, we engaged over 200 students in two weeks.  

If you are interested in bringing these fun and informative games to your students next school year or even before the end of this school year, please contact us at the Office of Sustainability. If your school is in the RethinkWaste service area, please contact RethinkWaste directly. 

You can email us at with the subject line “Schools Program”, and you can reach RethinkWaste staff by emailing

Partner Resources for Teachers
Solutionary Teacher Fellowship with
San Mateo County Office of Education
San Mateo County Office of Education is offering a unique opportunity to teachers beginning this summer, the Solutionary Teacher Fellowship program previously known as the SMELC (San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative) Fellowship program.  This is a knowledge-to-action program that builds on teacher capacity for designing and delivering learning experiences that are student-centered, problem-project-based, solutions-oriented, and integrates real-world environmental justice issues. We at the Office of Sustainability are excited to be participating in this program as we have done so for the past five years by facilitating environmental education curriculum workshops along with other community partners during the summer teacher-training institute portion of this program. We hope to see you there! 

For more information and how to apply, please visit:

Waste Reduction and Climate Action Achievements
in San Mateo County Schools
Third Graders Taking Actions at
South Hillsborough School
Way to go third graders at South Hillsborough School for making a difference! With the guidance of their teacher, Ms. Sally James, the third graders led a school-wide litter collection campaign. As a result, students collected 65 pounds of litter which prevented local wildlife from being harmed. This is especially true since San Mateo Creek runs through the school’s neighborhood.

This litter collection campaign did not happen by itself, but it was part of a solutionary waste unit lesson.  Thanks to Ms. Sally James’s participation in the 2020-21 SMELC (San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative) Teacher Fellowship Program, she had the time, guidance, and connections to create this lesson. This also included connecting with the Office of Sustainability, which provided resources such as gloves and bags for students to collect litter safely.

“This campaign is an inspiration to us all, to see students leading and taking action to protect the environment!”
Students Getting Ready to Weigh the Litter
 If you are interested in learning more about participating in this teacher fellowship program please continue reading the section below, “Solutionary Teacher Fellowship with the Office of Education,” and if you would like assistance with setting up a community litter pickup event at your school please email us at, subject line: Schools Program.
San Mateo County High School Students
Declare a Climate Emergency 

Have you heard the news? San Mateo County high school students have worked with their districts, Sequoia Union High School District and San Mateo Union High School District, to declare a climate emergency. These are two out of the three high school districts in San Mateo County, which includes 15 schools and a population of about 12,500 students. 

Now, you may be wondering, ”What’s the big deal with declaring a climate emergency?” When students take action and come together to declare a climate emergency within their school district, this holds the school district accountable to a commitment of sustainability. This crucial collaboration between students and administration set the stage for significant climate action throughout a district. 

We are inspired and impressed by these students’ passions that have brought this climate emergency to the forefront in their own school districts. We, along with the San Mateo County Office of Education, are here to support these students' efforts along with teachers' and administrators' efforts, to prepare and mitigate climate change. 

Read all about these amazing students and the process to declare a climate emergency in San Mateo County school districts here:
Other OOS Resources for
Teachers and Youth
Youth Climate Ambassadors Program
The Youth Climate Ambassadors program provides 9-11th grade students in San Mateo County with the opportunity to dive into social and environmental issues contributing to the global climate crisis. During this year-long program, students will attend monthly online workshops that cover a variety of topics to strengthen their knowledge in climate change, build individual skills, and support regional capacity among youth to lead action on climate change.

To connect your students with this program, go to:
Youth Exploring Sea Level Rise Science (YESS) Program

The YESS program provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about the local impacts of climate change through a mixture of classroom presentations, interactive activities, and field trips. The YESS Program has shifted over the past year from field trips to offer remote learning offerings. YESS now includes a comprehensive remote learning option for teachers who are interested in continuing to bring this curriculum to their classroom in a virtual setting. 

Find out more at
Sustainability Academy (Open to All Ages)
The Sustainability Academy is a free education and outreach program to San Mateo County residents, designed to raise awareness around sustainability and empower our community members with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainability. Open to all ages.

Upcoming classes include:
Virtual Volunteer Fair - June 5th (on Zoom)
Home Hot Pile Composting Workshop - June 26 (on Zoom)
And more workshops being added all the time!

Learn more at
About the OOS Schools Program
The Office of Sustainability Schools Program provides a diverse array of Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core aligned curricula tailored to the teachers' , schools', and districts' goals, aimed at students taking action to reduce waste, conserve resources,
and protect the environment.
To read more about what we do, visit the OOS Schools Program web page

To learn more about the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability, visit the Office of Sustainability website
For questions and comments,
Please contact:
Subject line: Schools Program
Copyright © 2021 County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability, All rights reserved.

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