Aaron Dublenko has devoted his teaching career with the Edmonton Public School Board to inspiring his students to become environmental champions through his Emerald Award-winning Student Led Initiatives for Sustainable Education (SLISE) program, and INNOVATE, a hands-on project-based program that bridges the different curriculums, connects to the greater community, and provides research and experimental opportunities to students who are focused on solving real-world problems of sustainable development.
Aaron and his students at Queen Elizabeth High School environmental dedication recently garnered national attention by winning the Greenest School in Canada Award, putting them in running for Greenest School on the Planet! We had the opportunity to meet with Aaron to chat about this outstanding achievement.
What inspires your work?
The need to show students what is possible. Being able to offer students a chance to create their own learning experience as part of their credited education while connecting them to stewardship and environmental sustainability. Having a space where students learn through trying, failing and trying again. Knowing that this program helps creates agents of change.
What are you working towards? What outcomes would you like to see?
Currently working towards expanding INNOVATE to all high schools in Edmonton and beyond in order to connect students to environmental stewardship. I would like to see all schools encourage and support students in developing environmental initiatives in their schools and communities.
What are your next steps now that you’ve won Greenest School in Canada?
We have always had a grassroots, bottoms-up approach where students become the champions of change and demonstrate to others what can be done. I am now developing a “Greenest School Board Award” for Alberta school districts to help them “green their facilities” in innovative ways while transforming these opportunities to students. Now instead of a top-down or bottom-up approach, I hope to create synergy between the decision makers and recipients to work together through an ecological model where all participants are stakeholders. Imagine if school boards installed circuit meters in all their buildings and schools. Students and staff would be able to monitor energy consumption in real time. This data can be used to inform necessary changes to reduce wasteful energy usage which saves tax payers money, reduces the carbon footprint of schools and teaches students life long lessons and job skills. If every school reduced their energy consumption by 5% then that would save tax payers millions of dollars and save our environment millions of pounds of C02.
What career accomplishment makes you the most proud?
The look on students faces when they realize they can create their own learning experience about what they are truly passionate about. I spend all my time getting students to innovate and to see themselves as worthy and capable members of society who have a say. This has encouraged me to innovate my own job which has become the Innovate Program with Edmonton Public Schools.
Congratulations to Aaron Dublenko and Queen Elizabeth High School for this outstanding achievement. It should also be noted that second place Greenest School in Canada was given to another Albertan school, Lord Shaughnessy High School Career and Technology Centre in Calgary. We could not be more proud!
Source Alberta Emerald Foundation