Carson teacher recognized nationally for sustainability

Cara Tirado dissects cow eyeballs with fourth graders at Bordewich Bray Elementary School.

Cara Tirado dissects cow eyeballs with fourth graders at Bordewich Bray Elementary School.

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Cara Tirado, K-12 curriculum and assessment science coordinator for the Carson City School District, has been chosen by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as one of five individuals nationally to receive a Leader in Sustainability Fellowship for the 2022-23 school year.
CCSD will receive ongoing support from the center and its partners during the next year and will benefit from connections and resource sharing with a broad network of other school district sustainability staff.
“Ms. Tirado is an excellent example of sustainability to both her students and coworkers alike,” said Superintendent Richard Stokes. “We are pleased she is getting the recognition and accolades on a national level for all that she does in our school district.”
Tirado has piloted sustainability curriculum throughout K-12 grade levels. She also has a team of teachers at the K-5 level piloting curriculum from the Biomimicry Institute. Additionally, Project ReCharge is used in science and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses in sixth to eighth grades, and she’s helped develop a new environmental science course at the high school level. Earth science is being integrated into each of the three core science classes – biology, chemistry and physics – so every student who graduates from Carson High or Pioneer Academy will have earth science and its systems in their background.
“The coordinator team is currently in the beginning stages of K-12 vertical alignment with a focus on sustainability and grouping units across the curriculum so students can study a topic from different viewpoints within each core class,” Tirado said. “I hope to bring the 4Ps (phenomena, place, project and problem) based learning model into our classrooms through this work and give the students the opportunity to solve problems collectively and collaboratively. Part of sustainability is sustaining healthy relationships with peers and teachers. I aim to help young people learn how to deal with conflict and work with someone especially when they disagree on a subject.”
Tirado said she helps promote and integrate sustainability mindsets where possible, not only in the area of curriculum and instruction, but also in the areas of culture and climate. She also would like to develop outdoor learning spaces at all 10 school sites in Carson City.
“Studies show students perform and feel better when given the opportunity to work outside and connect with nature,” she said. “Nestled in this beautiful valley, it only makes sense to teach our students about our local ecosystems, using our local ecosystems.”
The five national fellowship recipients represent more than 114,000 students from diverse communities across the country. In addition to Carson City schools, the cohort includes leaders from Baltimore City Public Schools, Bend La Pine School District, Berkeley Unified School District and Hawai’i Preparatory Academy.
Benefits available to each of these districts include participation in virtual conferences, including the 2022 Green Schools Conference and Expo and the School Sustainability Leaders’ Summit, targeted trainings on courageous leadership, effective storytelling, equity and sustainability and more. In addition, fellows will receive one-on-one coaching related to personal and professional goals. To broaden the impact of the fellowship, teachers from the fellows’ district will be offered an opportunity to take the Green Classroom Professional certificate course and will be granted free access to sustainability curriculum through Learning Lab.
Green schools can significantly lower district resource usage and operating costs putting money back into classrooms where it is needed. The Leader in Sustainability Fellowship program equips sustainability staff across the country with skills and resources to accelerate the progress in their communities regarding green school design and operations. The 2021-22 fellows will specifically focus on establishing and implementing targeted goals to drive down their carbon footprint and bring opportunities for all students to explore sustainability by using their building and grounds as a teaching tool.
“Moving a school system's culture toward sustainability and environmental action takes strong and smart leadership. This year's fellows are committing their time and effort to continuous learning to become the best leaders they can be for the green school movement,” said Anisa Heming, director of the Center for Green Schools. “We are proud to support this cohort, and we are excited to celebrate the impact they will make in their schools."
More information about the fellowship program can be viewed at


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