Congratulations to Linda Gancitano, physical education teacher at Driftwood Middle School Academy of Health and Wellness, on being named a White House Climate Education on Literacy Champion of Change. As part of the Champions of Change program, The White House honors people like Gancitano who have made a difference in enhancing climate education. Gancitano, will be recognized at a special ceremony and reception at The White House on February 9, 2015.
Gancitano has served as a middle school physical education teacher for 25 years at Driftwood Middle. Prior to this recognition, Gancitano was named Florida Green School Teacher of the Year, Broward County Physical Education Teacher of the Year and Driftwood Middle School Teacher of the Year. She also serves the District on the Wellness Committee and Superintendent’s Environmental Technical Advisory Committee. Additionally, Gancitano spearheaded the District and school application for the National Green Ribbon Award and Florida Green Schools. Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is currently a 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability awardee.
In 2008, Gancitano started the Driftwood Middle Green Team, connecting environmental wellness to the school wide Health and Wellness Magnet program. Her major initiative for climate change education has been through her creation of the How Low Can You Go Energy Challenge. The student-run energy team, better known as the “DMS Chillers,” conducts energy audits, leaving a painted paw print on the door saying “You’ve been Chilled!” when classroom lights are found left on. The “DMS Chillers” go into classrooms and make suggestions to teachers and students on how to conserve energy.
The “How Low Can You Go?” Energy Challenge was so successful, that Gancitano expanded it to the entire District through a partnership with the Miami HEAT during NBA Green Week. The initiative raised environmental awareness of the effects on the environment of CO2 emissions, as well as educated the facilities to potential financial savings through responsible energy consumption. In its inaugural year, 64 schools participated in the challenge, reducing energy use by 380,612 KWH and realizing a savings of over $34,000, for only a brief one month period. The 2014/15 challenge has expanded to 80 schools and an energy reduction period of three months ending this month. The school with the largest energy reduction will be recognized at the March 29, 2015 Miami HEAT game and a school pep rally during NBA Green Week.
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