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Lake County Sentinel
Recycling Matters
(EUCLID, OH) - At Noble Academy-Cleveland, a K-8 charter school in Euclid, new ideas and innovation are key components of our curriculum and school culture. When I arrived at the school for the 2015-16 school year, fresh from an 8-year stint of teaching in Phoenix, Arizona, I saw a chance to develop a new program at the school, that would deliver a positive outcome, not only for the school, but the surrounding community as well. Now that the program has taken off and is very successful, I wanted to share our success with the local community and urge others to follow suit.

While teaching out west, my school was lucky enough to have a paper recycling program, equipped with classroom bins, as well as a paper recycling dumpster. Recycling was a foreign concept to many of our students, so getting the program off the ground was a difficult thing to achieve. After a few months of piloting the program and teaching about the importance of recycling, the program became very successful. Students were very excited to be a part of the program, which involved weekly weighing and emptying of classroom recycling bins (which at the time were just empty copy paper boxes) and tracking each classroom’s total weight. It was very neat to see the children, sometimes as young as Kindergarten, get excited about something as important and beneficial as recycling.

Let’s fast forward to present day at Noble Academy-Cleveland. Upon arriving at Noble in August 2015, I was informed that all teachers are required to hold weekly tutoring sessions with at-risk students and/or create academic or sports clubs for students to enjoy. This was my chance to bring some of the ideas from Phoenix back home to Ohio. I jumped at the chance to develop a recycling program. I shared my idea with some of our other teachers and was given the approval to start a recycling club. This club would run parallel with a group that we already had in place, called the Noble Ambassadors. These scholars were some of our brightest students; they would give tours to building visitors, answer sponsors’ questions, mediate problems between students, and perform many other responsibilities on behalf of the school. They were a very busy group to say the least.

At first, while once again employing the use of empty copy paper boxes, the program moved very slowly. Few classrooms took advantage of the program and it did not catch on as I had hoped. I began to formulate ideas of what could be done to make this program a success, as it had been in Phoenix. I approached my principal and explained what I wanted to do, where I wanted the program to go, and what assistance I would need. Immediately, I had his support and he was very excited about the development of this new program at our school.

With the help of my principal, we were able to rent a paper recycling dumpster, which was placed in our parking lot. Also, I was able to purchase heavy-duty plastic recycling bins for each classroom in our school (around 40 total). I also was able to create my own, free-standing club, apart from the Noble Ambassadors group. Thus, began the Noble Recycling Club. Things would definitely be in full-force the following school year.

As the 2016-17 school year began, the plan I had formulated was put into action. I had developed the idea of making a “Noble Recycling Challenge” weekly event, where my club members would go to each classroom and the bins would be weighed. The weekly top 3 classrooms, by weight, would receive a certificate to be proudly displayed and also be celebrated on the morning announcements. We also created a “Recycling Tree” that is displayed on our second floor. Every classroom bin’s weight and the date are written on a leaf and stapled up for the entire school to see. As the year progresses, the tree fills up with these leaves. By year’s end, which is occurring now, the tree is full and beautiful. Everyone can see just how many pounds of paper we have gathered and recycled from day 1 of collection.

The level of excitement, that I had been seeking, was finally apparent! Scholars were recycling anything and everything made from paper to be able to win those weekly awards. Certain classrooms became staples in our weekly winners list and classroom bulletin boards began filling up with winning certificates. The roars of the winning classrooms could be heard building-wide during announcements. Teachers started making requests to have bi-weekly and sometimes daily collections because of the bins being too full! This was what I had envisioned when I arrived in 2015. It was finally happening and it continues to happen on a weekly basis.

My name is Ray Gigliotti and I am a teacher at Noble Academy-Cleveland and I run the Recycling Club. I am very proud to say that this successful program has definitely made a positive impact at my school. This year’s final official total is 4,990.04 pounds! But to practice our math rounding skills, we will bump that up to an even 5,000 pounds! To reach that amount is an incredible feat for our school. Many students still come up to me daily, asking to be part of the club, and because I already have a full roster, I have to respectfully decline and tell them to try and sign up next school year. But, I always make sure to remind them to not only keep recycling at school, but at home and in their communities.

The administration and staff at Noble has been tremendous regarding this program. Without their support and follow-through, the Recycling Club would not exist. I owe a big thank you to them, as well as the many, many students who now think of recycling as an everyday activity and realize the importance it holds. I am very excited to see what the future holds with our program and look forward to more successes and accolades.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article about the great story that is taking place at our school. I hope it inspires you to do something similar. Keep recycling because recycling matters!
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POSTED 05/24/2016 14:53