From achieving Eco-Schools Bronze award in February 2007 to their sixth and current Eco-Schools Green Flag award in March 2018, Sarah Wilding has been the driving force behind embedding environmental consciousness into the heart of St Mary’s School in Colchester.
Never sitting back, content with the school’s achievements, Sarah has constantly driven the eco-agenda in St Mary’s with passion and positivity. Sarah’s leadership approach always focuses on what can be done, rather than despairing about current problems – this means that St Mary’s pupils, from kindergarten to year 11, all have the belief that no one is too small to have a positive impact on climate change.
Over the last twelve years, Sarah’s Eco-Schools work has had a noticeable influence on St Mary’s: from lowering the school’s energy and water consumption to reducing canteen food waste. Sarah’s work has also impacted student attitude within the school. Girls at St Mary’s feel empowered to take ownership of the Eco-Schools programme by thinking of their own solutions to the environmental problems they face both in school and beyond. Across the academic year, Sarah’s work constantly reminds both students and staff about the Eco-Schools ethos. All members of the school community look forward to the next Eco-Event Sarah has planned, be it an Eco-Week or Recycled Halloween Costume competition. Sarah’s eco-message shines in her teaching – lessons are infused with recycling ideas and consideration of environmental impacts. Sarah has also worked hard to build significant links with different subject departments to deliver an eco-message that permeates the whole of St Mary’s curriculum.
Recently, Sarah’s message has spread beyond school, encouraging environmental education in her local area by working with Colchester Borough Council to support and advise other schools on their own Eco-Schools journeys. She even writes a fortnightly eco-column for a regional newspaper. Sarah has had the opportunity to deliver her message globally as she has begun to work with young people around the world to find solutions for a more sustainable future- this work, excitingly, leading to an international conference in 2019.
St Mary’s students of all ages have been inspired and motivated by Sarah, her eco-influence continuing to have an impact long after they have left the school. In the words of a colleague, “Sarah is one in a million.”