Community Voices - Kim Koos

Posted by Shane Clark on September 10, 2013 in Community Voices

Optimized-Kim KoosKim Koos is a teacher and IB Coordinator at Prospect Elementary School. Aside from her passion for education, she loves spending time with her family, swimming, reading, and gardening. She is also very artistic and loves to create items in various mediums.

Q: What are some words that come to mind when you think of Oberlin?

A: The thing that appealed to me most about Oberlin when I came here was that I felt welcomed. It has that small-town feeling, but there are people who are progressive and want to move forward as well – it’s not a typical small-town community…at all. You never know what’s going to be around any corner, it’s never boring. And I think it would be really easy in a college town to get wrapped up with all the hoopla and growth and big-city thinking, but my favorite part of the “town-and-gown” is the amount of college volunteers.

Q: How would you define the word “sustainability” as it relates to Oberlin?

A: When I think of sustainability, I think of being caregivers of our earth, of our planet, our home. In the broadest sense of the word, we are given this space and we’re all on borrowed time. If we want this space to be ours for our children and our grandchildren down the road, we need to do the right things and make the right choices that will allow us continue to have resources and the things we enjoy now for those generations to come.

Q: How do you try to move forward with sustainability as a teacher?

A: Well, we do a lot of small things, you know - the kids are in charge of taking the recycling out. The kids actually one year wrote a letter to the school board because they wanted some changes made in the cafeteria. They were very interested in the school making choices that were environmentally friendly and it was empowering for them to write that letter and get a response. We use more environmentally friendly cleaning products, recycled toilet paper...and we talk about those things with the kids.

Q: And what do you do in your personal life to move towards sustainability?

A: We’ve done a lot of things around the house, installed a rain barrel to help with the garden, installed rain chains at the gutters, and replaced our old light bulbs and appliances. We’re also careful about choosing eco-friendly pains and cleaning products in our home. We donate a lot of things to Goodwill. And I have an herb garden that saves me some money from buying herbs. I’ve been replacing any annual plants in the garden with perennials- they’re like a present every year- they just keep growing up bigger and I can split them up and give them to friends.

Q: Is there anything that you’d like to tell the rest of the Oberlin Community about sustainability?

A: Well, my first thought goes to Prospect because that’s where I spend a lot of my time. And there have been so many people in the community who have been so thoughtful with their recycling. Sometimes when offices close, they’ll bring over tons of stuff-office supplies – pens, pencils, labels. We’ve gotten national geographic, maps, Chinese and Japanese artifacts that someone weeded out of their own collection. So now we have those things that kids would otherwise never have the hands-on ability to experience those things.

Q: Can you talk about your interaction with the Environmental Dashboard?

A: Every visitor we’ve had all come in and ask “what’s that?” – They all want to know about it, and they’re very jealous because they also see the possibilities of what we can do with it. And when you talk about 21st century skills, these are the things that kids need to know how to understand. As they can gather data from it, record data and interpret data, that will be a very important tool.

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Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning Garden at Prospect Elementary and is a member of the Contra Dance Club, the Pottery Co-op, and the Oberlin College Gab Year Students.



Photographer Info: Yvette Chen is a photographer for the Dashboard Project who is interested in the power of media and images. Originally from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, Yvette is a first year student at Oberlin College planning to study sociology and economics. Other than photography, in her spare time, she enjoys cooking and running through Ohio's rural landscapes.

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Shane Clark
Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning
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