Editor’s Note: We want to learn how other companies approach sustainability, so we’re publishing a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. See below for an interview with Dr. Alexis Neumann, superintendent of Rapoport Academy Public School in Waco, Texas.
Tell us a little bit about Rapoport Academy.
Rapoport Academy is an open enrollment public charter school, serving more than 800 students from pre-K through 12th grade. Rapoport offers students a rigorous college preparatory education, utilizing project-based learning in small classes and college-level theses, as well as real-world experience. Real-world experiences include entrepreneurship, gardening on every campus, sustainable living, high school internships and volunteerism.
Rapoport is recognized by the Texas Education Agency as a “STEM” academy, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math with integrated, relevant and innovative teaching and learning. Our K through 12 STEM program includes robotics and engineering competitions, as well as offering a real experience with the science of renewable energy as middle school students monitor the activity of the solar panels on their building.
What is the mission of Rapoport Academy and how does sustainability fit into it?
Rapoport Academy focuses on serving economically disadvantaged students by providing an exceptional education that prepares all students for college, career and life. One key component of how we prepare our students for life is the premise of being a responsible citizen. This is not only by being an active citizen in government and civil issues, but also by being responsible for our own impact on our community and environment. Weaving sustainable living qualities into the traditional curriculum (and nontraditional experiences) helps prepare students to be truly successful.
Can you share some of your sustainable efforts?
We have a 250 kW solar array on our middle school and are in the process of installing a 25 kW solar array on one of our high school buildings. We also have gardens at every campus, a sustainable living class in middle school, a master gardening class for students at the elementary level and real-world projects at high school (building windmills from recycled materials, etc.). We also focus on reducing our own footprint by maintaining seasonal air conditioning and heater restrictions, installing efficient lighting controls, recycling and consuming produce sourced locally (often from our own gardens).
How did you come to use Green Mountain Energy as your service provider?
Following the first installation of a solar panel system, we were seeking a partner who was both responsible to the environment and would give credit for the excess production from the array.
Where can people learn more about Rapoport Academy?
You can visit www.rapoportacademy.org for more information about Rapoport.