The County Office of Education is highlighting educators and student leaders who are bringing solutionary environmental justice and sustainability into their school communities. These environmental changemakers have used their passion and knowledge to make real change, from creating new sustainability programs to transforming teaching practices around environmental and social justice issues. 

Explore the interviews below to learn about each local solutionary changemaker! We hope their stories and experiences encourage you to take action in leading your own school community.

Woodside Green Academy: Cohesive and Meaningful Environmental Education

Image of Sphia QinWoodside High School (Sequoia Union High School District)

The Green Academy is the only program of its kind in San Mateo County. This ‘school within a school’ inspires students to become stewards of their environment, leaders in their communities, and innovators in the field of green technology. Over the course of three years, students learn how to lead change while participating in social-emotional and personal development activities that are not traditionally included in the classroom experience.

The program uses experiential learning as a key technique to support students in understanding and applying their environmental knowledge. Some of this learning happens through the school garden, field trips, and career exploration opportunities. Around 100 students participate in the Green Academy at each grade level.

Read the Changemaker Interview article with Woodside Green Academy teachers and watch the interview video.

Youth Climate Leaders

Headshots of Katinka, Sarah, Brandon, and Kathryn Headshot of Maya Xu Headshot of Charlotte Rosario Robert Griffin

2021 and 2022 Student Leaders
Sequoia Union High School District

Katinka Lennemann, Sara Typrin, Brandon Wee, Kathryn Nguyen, and Sophia Bai share their experiences helping the Sequoia Union High School District adopt a climate emergency board resolution to prioritize climate action in 2021, AND building on that effort in 2022 to launch a district-wide sustainability committee: 2021 Interview and 2022 Interview

Maya Xu
Crystal Springs Upland School

Maya discusses her Youth Climate Leadership and sustainability efforts, including starting an environmental club and leading sustainability events on campus.


Charlotte Rosario
Class of '25
The Nueva School

Charlotte talks about her community empowerment initiative, called The Community Photobooth, and her experiences leading a Teen Innovators for Climate Action event.

Sophia Qin
Aragon High, Class of '23
San Mateo Union High School District

Sophia shares her mission to boost environmental literacy and empower youth. She discusses her nonprofit organization, Light Earth's Destiny, and her book Becoming Earth 2.0.

Headshots of Lilian, Maram, and Atiyah Headshot of Bellamy Cramer    

Lilian, Maram, and Atiya
Various Schools and Classes
San Mateo Union High School District

Lilian, Maram, and Atiya discuss their advocacy efforts and success in getting the San Mateo Union High School District to pass a district-wide climate emergency declaration.

Bellamy Cramer
Menlo-Atherton High, Class of '22
Sequoia Union High School District

Bellamy talks about her work as a Youth Climate Leader and her green facilities internship with the Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Initiative.

Emily, Olivia, Roisin, Caroline
Hillsdale High School
San Mateo Union High School District

Emily Duncan, Olivia Murray, Roisin Scallon, and Caroline Lim share how they have empowered other students to get into gardening and care for their community and planet.


Teacher Changemakers

Charu Gulati Matt Clemens Sonia Myers Beth Kassler

Charu Gulati
Tierra Linda Middle School
San Carlos School District

Charu shares how being a solutionary teacher has helped her navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and find hope for a more sustainable future. 

Matt Clemens
El Camino High School
South San Francisco Unified School District

Matt discusses how he responds to student needs by bringing environmental education into the English classroom as a solutionary teacher.

Sonia Myers 
Serendipity School

Sonia talks about how being a solutionary teacher has helped enhance her teaching practices and lead students to be advocates for their community and build lifelong skills.

Beth Kassler
Margaret Kemp Girls Camp
San Mateo County Office of Education

Beth shares how being a solutionary teacher allows her to implement restorative practices in the classroom and build impactful, intersectional curriculum.

Sarah Hartman Corinna Low Rhonda Clements Matthew Sahagun

Sarah Hartman
Connect Community Charter School

Sarah speaks about her experience in the Solutionary Teacher Fellowship program and how the resources she gained by participating benefited her teaching.

Corinna Low
Westborough Middle School
South San Francisco Unified School District

Corinna shares her experience in the Solutionary Teacher Fellowship Program and how it was a place for her to learn and grow as an educator and connect with a larger network of support.

Rhonda Clements
South San Francisco High School
South San Francisco Unified School District

Rhonda talks about how learning about solutionary teaching has helped her teach her students how to ask the right questions about environmental issues and create impactful action plans.

Matthew Sahagun
Woodside High School
Sequoia Union High School District

Matthew discusses his experience in the Solutionary Teacher Fellowship Program and how it helped him develop a unit of study with Next Generation Science Standards that utilized local phenomena.

Jadelyn Chang Kimber Trefero Jennifer Young Habiba Naqvi

Jadelyn Chang
Foster City Elementary School
San Mateo-Foster City School District

Jadelyn shares how her passion and concern for the environment inspired her to implement zero waste projects and engage her students in solutionary units of study.

Kimber Trefero
Ormondale School
Portola Valley School District

Kimber speaks about her experience in the Solutionary Teacher Fellowship Program and leading solutionary units of study to help students build a growth mindset.

Jennifer Young
Audubon Elementary School
San Mateo-Foster City School District

Jennifer discusses her experience in the Solutionary Teacher Fellowship Program and her class embraced the term “problem solvers” in the 2020-21 school year.

Habiba Naqvi
Bayside Academy
San Mateo-Foster City School District

Habiba talks about how her experiences helped her design lessons that engage students and help them implement projects, including a successful campaign for solar panels.

Woodside Green Academy      

Woodside Green Academy
Woodside High School
Sequoia Union High School District

Teachers in the Woodside Green Academy share how the program provides students with a cohesive and meaningful environmental education experience, inside and outside the classroom.



Administrator Changemakers

Sarah Koning South Hillsborough School Staff Taja Henderson Mindy Hill

Sarah Koning
Director of Sustainability
The Nueva School

Sarah shares about The Nueva School's success with the California (CA-GRS) and Federal Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) programs. The school was recognized as a "Green Achiever in 2021.

Lena Butte, Sally James, and Erin Bautista
South Hillsborough School
Hillsborough City School District

Lena Butte, Sally James, and Erin Bautista discuss their sustainability efforts at South Hillsborough School, which received a California Green Ribbon Schools (CA-GRS) silver-level recognition in 2021.

Will Eger, Delma Camacho, and Nico Janek
Ravenswood City School District

Will, Delma, and Nico talk about their California Green Ribbon Schools (CA-GRS) bronze-level recognition and sustainability efforts in the Ravenswood City School District.

Mindy Hill
Health and Wellness Coordinator
San Carlos School District

Mindy shares how being a solutionary educator has helped her build partnerships across San Mateo County and support trauma-informed, solutionary environmental teaching.

Sheila Krotz Dwayne Taylor Katherine Rivera Head shot of Ralph Crame

Sheila Krotz
Principal, Portola Elementary School
San Bruno Park School District

Sheila talks about how being a solutionary educator has helped her collaborate with early learners and implement sustainability projects across her school.

Dwayne Taylor
General Manager of Facilities Use
San Mateo Union High School District

Dwayne discusses how he supported a baseline assessment process to document his district's progress on sustainability and climate resiliency and jump-started efforts to create a districtwide sustainability committee.

Katherine Rivera
Orion Alternative Elementary School
Redwood City School District

Katherine shares how she has unified her community to bring equitable access to nature and sustainability practices to her school through outdoor learning spaces and sustainable waste programs.

Ralph Crame
Chief Business Officer
Millbrae Elementary School District

Ralph talks about working with community members to uplift their visions and bring green schoolyards to Millbrae Elementary School District.

 Nuala O'Sullivan-Haley and Liz O'Neill head shot  Doron Markus head shot    

Nuala O'Sullivan-Haley & Liz O'Neill
Principals, Garden Village Elementary School & Westlake Elementary School
Jefferson Elementary School District

Nuala and Liz share how they have taken on environmental issues like waste management and outdoor learning spaces on their school campuses, and discuss how schools can become models of sustainability with meaningful leadership. 

Doron Markus
Career Technical Education & STEM Coordinator
San Mateo County Office of Education

Doron discusses how he and his team designed real-world, action-based green career curriculum for middle schools and are driving innovation in the education field.