The first cohort of the San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative (SMELC) Administrative Fellowship Program successfully graduated in December 2020. This program is a paid fellowship that takes site- and district-level administrators through a knowledge-to-action program that involves workshops, coaching sessions, technical assistance, and a culminating community impact project focused around one or more of the following initiatives: 

  • environmental sustainability (“green”) facilities and operations projects;
  • environmental literacy integration into curriculum and instruction; and,
  • climate ready projects (i.e. preparing for high heat, floods, wildfires) and integrating trauma-informed practices into curriculum and instruction for climate-related disasters. 

In its first year, the SMELC Administrative Fellowship worked with ten dedicated fellows who managed to prioritize environmental sustainability education under even the most extraordinary circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their collective impact drove environmental transformation across their school communities, and collectively reached the following:

  • 6 public school districts (3 focused on district-wide projects)
  • 8 school sites
  • 11,000 students collectively

“This has been an extraordinary opportunity for myself and my community of learners," exclaimed Dr. Sheila Krotz, principal at Portola Elementary School in the San Bruno Park School District. "I applaud the efforts of program leaders and all of the resources that they brought to Portola Elementary to help champion my project. I am excited to see our common vision coming to fruition and look forward to continuing the expansion of the Outdoor Learning Spaces, as well as the future projects related to Zero Waste, recycling, and composting that will align with our garden.” 

Stumps placed in a circle outside to create an outdoor classroomAs part of their program completion, fellows wrote up case studies that captured their overall experience in the program and their project's impact.

“Implementation of my community impact project went far better than I had expected," shared San Carlos School District principal Thomas Domer. "What I learned immediately was that there is a great deal of momentum behind greening our schools in particular and environmental justice in general.  I was amazed by the number of resources both in human capital and in financial assistance there is out there.  What is needed is leadership.”

Applications for the 2021 cohort are now being accepted until February 15, 2021. Participants must be a district administrator, site administrator (including vice principals, deans, counselors), chief business officer, or director of facilities, maintenance and operations, teacher on special assignment/instructional coach, or some equivalent role. Participation in this program requires a time commitment of about 5-8 hours per month (including workshops).

Check out the case studies and learn more about the program on the SMELC Administrative Fellowship page