Environmental Leadership at Sylvester Middle School

Note: Posts before 2020 reflect EarthGen’s former name, Washington Green Schools.

It all began with Katelen Phelan, a teacher at Sylvester Middle School. She was interested in tackling stormwater management with her 8th grade science class. Washington Green Schools worked with her to craft an 11-day curriculum on stormwater which culminated in student presentations on how best to address stormwater issues on their campus. The process was comprehensive, and:

  • WGS organized local experts in ecology, engineering, and stormwater management to listen to and engage with student presentations and choose student ideas we could implement in a rain garden installation
  • WGS, with help from our partners at The City of Burien, ECOSS, Sounders FC, Starbucks, Boeing, and The Nature Conservancy, installed a large rain garden on the school grounds of Sylvester Middle School in celebration of Earth Day
  • Students helped plant native plants, remove invasive species, paint a mural commemorating the day, and create a maintenance plan for the summer
  • WGS returned to the site of the rain garden nearly a year later to commemorate the hard work of the school by installing a rain garden sign and mural near the site. Ms. Phelan’s 8th grade students from last year attended the ceremony as well as her current science students, our local partners, and the Assistant Principal Jeff Lam.

Now, Sylvester Middle School has a ready-to-use garden for their campus. But they also have culture of environmental leadership and a commitment to their community.