HISD schools, departments honored during Mayor’s Proud Partners Luncheon

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Farias Early Childhood Center, Garden Oaks Montessori, and the HISD Transportation Department were among those honored Monday at the 32nd Mayor’s Proud Partners Luncheon for making a positive impact on Houston’s environment.

The event at the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel drew hundreds of people to celebrate the accomplishments of community groups, businesses and individuals dedicated to improving life in the city.

“It’s about the environment, health and education,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told the crowd. “No matter which ZIP code we’re in, we can keep Houston beautiful.”

Farias received its Proud Partner Award for its garden project, which recently was certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and serves as a teaching tool for the young students.  Principal Sandra Menxueiro credited hardworking parents and garden consultant Janice Brown for pushing the project forward and involving the surrounding community.

“We started with a really small vision,” Menxueiro said. “It’s a testament to what our parents can do.”

Also recognized with a Proud Partner Award was the HISD Transportation Department for its Green Bus program. The district’s fleet currently includes 161 buses that are fueled by propane, and the goal is to add another 20 early next year. The buses emit fewer pollutants, deliver better fuel economy, and require less maintenance.

“It’s a big deal for the district and, of course, for the Transportation Department,” HISD General Manager Nathan Graf said of the award. He said the propane buses “make the air cleaner not just for HISD students, but for all Houstonians.”

Garden Oaks Montessori also was honored with a Proud Partner Award for its longstanding garden project with Urban Harvest.  The garden is “really a major feature of our campus,” said Garden Oaks Principal Lindsey Pollock, noting the school’s focus on environment science. She said the Mayor’s recognition serves as a reminder of just “how special this program is.” It also showcases the importance of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, which helps with fundraising to keep the garden viable.

Recognized with a Certificate of Recognition was the Monarch Heroes Program, a partnership between the district and the National Wildlife Federation. The partnership aims to help reverse the monarch decline by creating monarch nectar and host gardens at various campuses.

Honorable mentions were given to the Earth Month campaign undertaken by HISD’s Energy & Sustainability Department and the National Wildlife Federation’s USA-Taiwan Eco-Campus Partnership Program, which encourages students in Houston and Taiwan to work together on environmental issues.

“We’re excited for this recognition,” said Kellie Williams, senior manager of HISD’s Energy & Sustainability Department. “It’s really an affirmation of the work that facilities and curriculum departments are doing.”