Learn more about the incredible impact A+ for Energy grants have at our winning schools.
Making a difference in Fort McMurray
Making a difference in the community
Two A+ for Energy grant winning teachers have been selected as finalists for this year’s Alberta Emerald Awards, an annual award that celebrates outstanding environmental achievement across all sectors in Alberta. Johny Dulku and Kitty Cochrane, both teachers with the Fort McMurray Public School District, have championed environmental stewardship at their respective schools. Both say that the A+ for Energy program helped them to connect with each other for inspiration, and also make connections with like-minded people in their school district.
At Ecole Dickinsfield School, Cochrane has used the A+ grant money to successfully create meaningful, long-lasting environmental programs. She has actively supported the single use bag ban in Fort McMurray by dressing up in 500 plastic bags, encourages waste free lunches, helps student wormologists tend the school’s 20,000 red wriggler worms and coordinates the school’s garden and outdoor experimental composting. With student volunteers, Kitty has raised awareness of global issues, and helped raise thousands of dollars for environmental organizations in Fort McMurray. Cochrane credits the A+ grant money with the effect her work has had on the community. “It's impossible to put into a few words what the A+ For Energy program has done for our school, and the ripple effects that it has had for our parents, school district and community,” says Cochrane. “That is what the Emerald Award nomination means to me. It means that BP Canada has an amazing project called A+ For Energy, that inspires teachers, that gives them room and encouragement and funds to make the impossible possible.”
"The Emerald Award nomination would not have been possible without A+ grants. I am grateful to BP for giving me the opportunity to make a difference in my community.”Johnny Dulku
Westwood Community High School teacher Johnny Dulku, formed a green initiative student club focusing on environmental demonstration projects. The club has used A+ grant money for outdoor gardening, rooftop solar panels, automatic water bottle filling stations, vermicomposting, two greenhouses, rainwater harvesting, solar-powered irrigation, a rain garden, and an experimental solar heating system design to extend the greenhouse growing season. “The BP A+ grant process is an education from inception through to construction of a project, and the unexpected learning that takes place beyond a project's intended timeline,” says Dulku. “Generous financial and educational support from BP has allowed us to be successful in contributing to energy and environmental education in Alberta. The Emerald Award nomination would not have been possible without A+ grants. I am grateful to BP for giving me the opportunity to make a difference in my community.”
The 25th Annual Emerald Awards will be presented on June 8 at Telus Spark in Calgary. The recognition event is held each year during Canadian Environment Week and recognizes environmental excellence across all sectors.
Photo: Students with their waste-free lunches at Ecole Dickinsfield School. Photo credit to: Greg Halinda Photography
Providing a unique energy education at Cappy Smart School
Cappy Smart School
Four years of A+ for Energy grants
The lasting effects of the A+ for Energy program reach far beyond the money each winning school receives. At Cappy Smart Elementary School in Calgary, teachers have benefited from the professional development and networking opportunities that take place at a conference all winners attend. Cappy Smart teacher, Florin Panaitescu says attending the A+ for Energy conference is an eye opening experience for all educators. “At the conference you get examples of things that have been done in other classrooms and get inspired by like-minded teachers,” says Panaitescu. “You also provide and receive feedback from teachers on how to make your projects stronger.” Panaitescu says receiving the grant also opens up collaboration opportunities within the school itself. Cappy Smart has won an A+ grant four times, allowing teachers to build connections across different grades and disciplines and re-use materials from previous years.
“By taking the risk and applying, we were able to shape our whole school year. It gives you flexibility in teaching.”Florin Panaitescu
“By taking the risk and applying, we were able to shape our whole school year. It gives you flexibility in teaching,” says Panaitescu. One of the school’s winning projects, ‘Stories of Energy’ integrated English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, Art and Health. Students worked together to create Energy literature. For example, they could create a story about the journey of an oil sand molecule from the ground to a plastic device used on the International Space Station. The students moved through several phases of the project to research and develop the story’s format. The final phase encouraged students to share their energy stories with their community outside of the school. Another project taken on by Cappy Smart students with the help of A+ for Energy is ‘Quenching the Energy Thirst’. This project focused on electrical energy, its production, use and impact over daily life of as well as the natural environment. Students will present their findings at the upcoming Mayor’s Environment Expo this June.
Panaitescu says the community outreach of the A+ projects has encouraged members of the Cappy Smart community to be more engaged and knowledgeable energy citizens. “One of the many benefits to receiving the grant has been the chance to go outside the school and provide students and teachers with the opportunity to communicate with different audiences and have unique experiences related to energy education.”
A+ helps River Valley School dream big
A+ helps teachers and students dream big
When River Valley School teacher Lindsey Bingley, first heard about the A+ for Energy program in 2014 she saw it as an opportunity to bring learning to life. “I was working through an inquiry-based, cross-curricular project that the students and I were really excited about,” says Bingley. “We had a lot of hopes and dreams -- a wish list of sorts -- of things that we wished that we could do in conjunction with this project, and when I heard about the BP A+ for Energy grant, it was like a dream come true.” Now a seasoned veteran when it comes to applying for the funding (the school has received an A+ grant three times!), Bingley says the program has given her and her fellow teachers the opportunity to delve deeper into the curriculum and connect it to real-world experiences.
"It allows us to improve our practice as teachers and take advantage of ways to go beyond the curriculum while we grow professionally. The possibilities that exist within the scope of this grant are so inspiring and exciting that we can't pass it up.”Lindsey Bingley
“With the A+ grant, we have the opportunity to take our learning outside the walls of our school on a regular basis. It allows us to improve our practice as teachers and take advantage of ways to go beyond the curriculum while we grow professionally. The possibilities that exist within the scope of this grant are so inspiring and exciting that we can't pass it up.” When Bingley first applied for an A+ grant, she made the wise decision to attend a grant writing workshop offered by BP Canada. “The workshop is an invaluable resource,” says Bingley. “You can connect with BP staff as well as grant readers and other educators to discuss your idea and get feedback. It is well worth the time.” This year, grant writing workshops are conveniently offered online. Interested applicants can connect with the A+ for Energy team, brainstorm project ideas, ask questions and learn more about what an A+ for Energy grant can do for your school and community.
In addition to the workshops, Bingley also recommends starting the process early and taking time to review the programs of studies. Thanks to the A+ funding, River Valley School has an indoor/outdoor garden and a theatre to study energy conservation. Students at the school from preschool through grade six benefit from the garden and the interactive learning that takes place. Bingley says the project has encouraged the entire school community to keep energy conservation front and centre. “Some of the more intangible benefits that have occurred because of the grant money have been an increased awareness of the environment, as well as a heightened sense of wonder and excitement. Children are bringing things to school that relate to our project, parents are sending us links and resources. Teachers are dreaming big and helping their students dream big, too!”
Creating Opportunities at Sundre High School
A+ for Energy: Creating Opportunities
Newton’s law of motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of an A+ for Energy grant, the reaction can be a ripple effect of positive change – not only for the students, but teachers as well. One success story of the grant program is Sundre High School. Winning an A+ grant four times has allowed the school to create a robust, interactive science department.
“To watch the ‘aha!’ moments that students have because the equipment has brought science to life for them is really exciting.”Ryan Beck
Ryan Beck, a science teacher at Sundre High School, says the grants have been used to purchase high quality science equipment that the science department would not typically have access to. Students are now able to study energy through a variety of collaborative labs and activities. “The initial effect of the grant money was the new materials we were able to purchase. This changed the way we could teach our science labs,” says Beck. “To watch the ‘aha!’ moments that students have because the equipment has brought science to life for them is really exciting.”
Being a repeat winner has allowed Sundre High School to open up many cross-curricular and community-based opportunities for the grade 9 to 12 high school. Beck says the reach of the grant has even extended far beyond the science lab – all the way to the United Nations in fact. This spring, Katie Jo Jackson, a grade 12 student at Sundre High School, has been invited to the United Nations headquarters in New York as a guest speaker at Lions Day. Jackson will provide ideas on how to engage and inspire youth in global action while discussing the topic of the day: gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. This amazing opportunity was thanks, in part, to the A+ for Energy grants.
“I never imagined there would be so many spinoffs to the grant money."Ryan Beck
According to Beck, receiving the grant money motivated him to take a more active role in the community and encourage leadership within the school. Four years ago he spearheaded the development of the Sundre High School leadership program affiliated with the local Lions Club. “I never imagined there would be so many spinoffs to the grant money. It has allowed me to develop my career in a way that has benefitted the students. The learning environment that the grant helped create in the school is part of what has helped Katie Jo grow into the tremendous leader she is.”