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Connecting to Sustainability

Tuesday of last week, Ms. Patricia and I had the opportunity to attend the World Affairs Council of Charlotte luncheon. We heard and learned from Jonathan Dawley, President and CEO of KION North America Corporation. Mr. Dawley spoke about the introduction of AI technology in global logistic environments.

You may be wondering how this ties in to sustainability. Some of you have heard me say that I see sustainability as the umbrella that everything falls under.

After speaking with Mr. Dawley and doing research on his company, it is inspiring to know that sustainability is a key component of KION North America Corporation. KION even credits lots of their success to their environmental focus.

Ms. Patricia and I are currently in the process of connecting more with KION and Mr. Dawley, as he was intrigued by our school and what our students are learning.

(Ms. Patricia, Jonathan Dawley, and Ms. Emily)

Once we returned to school from fall break, the students and I got right back into discussing environmental issues that may not be so obvious.

I posed the question to both Upper Elementary and Middle School, "what are some environmental problems that you know of?" Here are some of their answers.

I love seeing how the students began by problems that are directly tied to the environment, such as cutting down trees, but through thought and discussion came up with more complex problems such as education, world hunger, and poverty. Your children posed thought provoking questions as well as shared their thoughts and feelings around these issues and how they have felt the impact of some of these issues.

We paused our conversation and went "fishing." This consisted of bowls full of buttons representing water and hidden objects in the buttons that served as fish.

At the beginning of the activity, I simply explained that the class as a whole was a community made up of individuals. They were told how many fish were in each "pond" but were given no other instructions than they had 30 seconds to fish for as many fish as they chose. Each individual needed to catch at least two fish to survive the week. We went on for a couple of rounds, tracking how many fish each individual caught, how many the group caught, and how many were left for the next week.

After the first few rounds, students began to notice that some people were taking excess and that meant that there was not enough fish for everyone in the community. It ultimately meant that some individuals went "hungry" for the week.

At the end of our fishing journey, students gathered again to discuss what they discovered. I asked them to share their strategies and what worked well and what didn't. I also asked them to share their feelings on how it felt for some of them to have none and some to have plenty.

To tie together both activities, we looked back at the environmental problems that were named at the beginning of class. Students began to make the connection that what they witnessed in the fishing activity happens in some of the issues they listed. I loved hearing students discuss and think deeply about education and poverty and how it is related to natural resources. To see them make connections that we as humans are all tied together by the world around us is so special.

Students asked to continue these conversations this week, so that is exactly what we will do. We will learn more about the theory of "Tragedy of the Commons" and see how it applies to our daily lives. I encourage you to also have these conversations at home. The students are deep thinkers and have some amazing ideas for solutions!

I ended the week feeling so grateful to be surround by the wonder and awe of your children. Whether it is dancing in the rain or finding chicken eggs, they always find a way to bring me back to a grateful heart.

-Ms. Emily

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