KENT, Wash. - Employees at several Washington schools are getting a national nod today as part of "Making a Difference Every Day," a campaign by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to call attention to the good things happening in classrooms around the nation despite budget cuts and layoffs.
The campaign congratulates teachers and support staff members for outstanding work. Loretta Johnson, AFT executive vice president, says the campaign is finding amazing stories of making a difference across the nation.
"We want to show that even though we're having budget cuts and slashing, educators feel that they may be under attack by politicians - but not by our students. We want to show that we care for our kids, and we are out there, going to just everyday classrooms."
Among her stops in Washington, Johnson will tour the recycling program at Scenic Hill Elementary School in Kent, and meet with paraeducators who work with deaf students in the Tacoma School District.
Three years ago at Scenic Hill, custodian Ginger Ott started a basic recycling program for paper and milk cartons, recruiting students for her "Green Team." It has since expanded to involve every grade, with older students teaching the younger ones about waste reduction, and water and energy conservation.
"It's a way to interact with the kids. I think the more you know them - I don't know, I've just found that it's easier. There's a little bit more respect, because then you're taking the time to do something with them. And this is something where they feel like they're doing something good at school."
Scenic Hill Elementary now has a "Level Three" or top rating for conservation in King County, and has cut its waste output by more than half.
The AFT "Making a Difference Every Day" campaign is highlighting school employees' work in seven states.