Community Voices - Laura Brua

Laura Brua 2

Lauri Brua is a fifth grade teacher at Prospect Elementary School. She uses the Environmental
Dashboard as a teaching tool in her classroom, and makes sure that her students go home with an awareness of energy use and environmental issues, along with a sense of their own power to address these challenges.

Q: What are some words or images that come to mind when you think of Oberlin?
A: I would say progressive, changing. When I think of Oberlin as a community, I think: this is much more of a home community than where I actually live, because of the interactions that we teachers have with the community and the college.

Q: How is it that you came to be teaching in Oberlin?
A: I was just thinking about that…I got my job here in the early 90s. [My husband and I] were living in Elyria; so I targeted Lorain County schools and Oberlin called me. Then, I started doing research and looking into the historical value that was here, and it just really interested me. I was lucky enough to get pulled out of the hat for interviews, and got the job, so I felt pretty blessed.

Q: People use the word “sustainability” to mean a lot of different things. Can you give me your definition of “sustainability”?
A: Well, it’s changed just over the past few weeks because of these [Creative Change] lessons that we’ve had: talking about what you need to be happy and healthy, supporting your own wellbeing, and tying that in with nature and how that works all together as a community. I used to think of it more in terms of ecology and what it takes to be “green.” Now, it’s broadened out a lot more to include the well-being of a person.

Q: What are you doing as a teacher and in your personal life to move towards sustainability?
A: I stress recycling and reusing. We try to create as little trash as possible each day in the classroom, and we turn the lights off when we leave. We have been talking about the Bioregional Dashboard a lot at the end of the day when we look at the graphs of electricity and water use for that day. We always notice that the water usage goes up at the beginning of the day, at lunch, and at the end of the day. And the kids say, “Well they’re getting ready to go home, they’re going to the bathroom…” those types of things. But we noticed from 1:45-2:00 one day, our electricity usage went DOWN, significantly. And the kids brought this up- they said “Remember, we had a fire drill today?” Everybody had gone outside and turned off their lights and it made a difference in the graph. And the kids were like “Wow, that’s really cool. Now if we could turn the lights off when we….” And I do that in the morning now - I’ll keep the lights off and I bring in a lamp from home and turn just that on- and I think that makes a little bit of a difference. And I’ll do that at home, of course, too.

Q: Is there anything you would want to tell people in Oberlin about sustainability or caring for the environment?
A: I think it could get people more interested in what’s going on in the community if they had more information. The kids go home and talk about what we’re learning about with electricity. They go home and talk about how to conserve and make less trash and say “oh, we made a compost pile, and we’re planting seeds inside so that we can put them in the ground in the spring.” So they do make those connections. I think the more and more that we get kids interested, then they’ll go home and talk about it with their parents and get their parents interested.

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Emily Belle is a second year Environmental Studies major at Oberlin College. Originally from Ithaca, New York, she loves waterfalls, woodland adventures, and growing and eating tasty food. Emily works in the Oberlin community as a Bonner Leader and America Reads Tutor.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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Emily Belle
Emily Belle is a second year Environmental Studies major at Oberlin College. Ori
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