Teacher Lyndsey Collins’ hard work helps bring Lisa Jackson, EPA to Coretta Scott King YWLA

Environmentally conscious initiatives throughout Atlanta Public Schools continually receive national attention, so it wasn’t the biggest surprise to see Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson come to town as part of weeklong celebration of the EPA’s 40th anniversary. Still, teacher Lyndsey Collins had to be especially proud.

Collins is a science teacher for seventh-graders at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, which welcomed Jackson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other dignitaries in an event held Tuesday morning at the school. The event also helped underscore the EPA’s commitment to children’s health; the agency and the school also signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the first of its kind in the region.

Collins had been working to help put together such an event ever since winning an Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education last year, an acknowledgment of her wellness and green efforts that included a community garden and CSKYWLA participating with other schools around APS in the Be Water Wise! Atlanta campaign. Collins more recently has partnered with Rebecca Watts-Hull of Mothers and Others for Clean Air, founded by Laura Turner Seydel and Stephanie Blank.

Collins had started a program that used flags to notify students about the air quality in Atlanta on any given day. When she and the others contacted regional EPA officials about a possible kickoff event, she said, “They were totally excited, and wanted to have a huge event here to highlight what we’re doing at the school. It’s always nice to see it’s possible to bring in these high-level people when you’re doing things to improve the environment. It gives schools motivated to know it’s not just their schools being affected, but also the community and world around them.”

Also in attendance were Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, EPA Region 4 administrator; Dr. Peter Grevatt, director of the EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection; and Allen Barnes, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Activities included a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new community garden and composting center and the initiation of a waste minimization and recycling program. Throughout the day, officials also observed environmental focused activities led by students.

Check out the report on WABE here.

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