Sayre Upper School Science Teacher
DEBBIE WHEELER QUOTES THE GREAT LAW OF THE IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY,
“IN OUR EVERY DELIBERATION, WE MUST CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF OUR DECISION ON THE NEXT SEVEN GENERATIONS.”
When Ms. Wheeler came to Sayre in 2004 she had a vision for a brighter, greener future - a blueprint for progress in Sayre’s quest to make stewardship for the planet a key element of the curriculum. In the years since, she has collaborated with groups and individuals on our campus and throughout the Lexington community to support campus sustainability.
Recent classroom activities in Ms. Wheeler’s environmental science classes include building and testing a variety of renewable energy projects, including a wind turbine, hydroelectric generator, solar panels, and a passive solar model. She envisions some of these same energies used on campus in Sayre’s future. Her wish list includes skylights for the gym, solar water heaters and panels for every building, the use of campus and community gardens for food in the Buttery, and buildings evaluated and certified through the organization LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Inspired by Ms. Wheeler’s example, we are adopting institutional practices which serve as models to our children and our community. Most recently we have seen the back area of the Parker House transformed into a rain garden named “Rachel’s Garden” after biology teacher Rachel Holsinger. Thanks to Preschool teacher Emily Webb and Art teacher Georgia Henkel’s perseverance the Lower School vegetable garden has been reestablished and community partner Seedleaf will help educate our students and maintain it. On World Water Day, Dr. Tom Kimmerer, Sayre parent and sustainability consultant, discussed the scarcity of freshwater and the importance of using it responsibly. Moreover, the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council with two Sayre student representatives hosted the Earth Day Celebration at the Horse Park with former President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker. In addition, Sayre’s Earth Week celebration included the screening of the eco-movie Carbon Nation at the Kentucky Theatre.
Change is wisdom enacted. With her wealth of knowledge and her contagious enthusiasm, Ms. Wheeler along with the Green Council and many individuals in the Sayre community is bringing us to a deeper understanding of conservation and sustainability, helping us all lean into the sometimes difficult changes we need to undertake for the sake of the planet.