by Shasta Phillips
I spent many boyhood hours complaining about having to go to school. My grievances mostly revolved around feeling what we were taught had no practical application in the real world. I’d argue that knowing the major export of Montana would not help me land a job, that making a battery out of a potato was useless if it couldn’t power my Walkman, and that learning arithmetic had become obsolete with the invention of the calculator wristwatch (because, of course, they would never go out of style).
Even though I often resisted school as a child, returning to the classroom now as a representative of MMWD and teaching water conservation principles is one of the highlights of my job. The turnaround is quite dramatic. Also, when I go to schools now, I am far less likely to be shoved into my own locker.
While my understanding of education has expanded, I still keep in mind the grievances of my school days. I try to make a connection between the subject and the students, explaining why it’s important and how it personally relates to them. I find this is easily done with our “Do-It-Yourself Water Conservation Kit,” where students are taught how to check and improve their water efficiency at home. We then follow up to provide free showerheads and faucet aerators to replace wasteful ones.
This connection really hit home for me during one of these follow-up visits to a Corte Madera school. I asked the class to share some stories and results from their home surveys. After many of the typical stories, one beaming fourth-grade student explained how she had found a severe toilet leak. Not only that, but when her family’s plumber had trouble finding the water meter, she was able to assist by showing him its location. Her fellow students were riveted, and they gasped at the realization that an adult professional required the aid of one of their own to fix a serious problem.
These hands-on activities are designed to empower our students and to show they can make a positive impact on the world. Seeing these effects in action renews my commitment to education and helps make up for what I missed in my boyhood schooldays. To learn more about MMWD’s FREE water education programs for schools, just visit our website.
And since I know you’re wondering, the major export of Montana is bulk wheat.