Authors: Jameelah Muhammad, Green For All Fellow, Class 4 Being an Instructor for the ROOTS of Success Environmental Literacy Curriculum has been an incredible experience, impacting my life in many positive ways. When I was first introduced to the curriculum back in the Fall of 2009, I had no idea I would become a part of growing community of professionals and students, passionate about environmental issues, with a mission to not only teach these principles but to provide valuable skills that participants can use in future work and academic settings. Since becoming a certified instructor I have taught numerous sessions to Community Based Organizations, Workforce Development Institutions, and Worker Training Centers. I helped convene the New York City Community of Practice, where instructors can share ideas, best practices, and other wisdom that has worked well for them in the classroom.
Being a part of the inaugural group of instructors to become certified to teach, has been an incredible honor and learning experience. In many ways, those first couple of classes were an opportunity to see if the curriculum really works, to get a better sense of what we were seeking to accomplish with the course and to really see how students would take the material; after all the main objective is student learning. I found that students weren't not only learning, they were inspired-- they were having life changing thoughts about how to have more green lifestyles, how to be more active citizens and how prepare for a green career. I have never seen students so motivated, engaged and intrigued by the material being presented as I have with ROOTS students. I reflect back upon the many presentations, workshops, and lesson plans I have given as an educator in other spaces. I realize that although informational, these curricula and presentations did not always inspire or bring people to action. I knew after teaching my first ROOTS class that I was doing something unique, and this experience would be different.
The response from students that I have had after teaching them ROOTS has been overwhelmingly positive and students are always eager to hear more, do more, to participate/to be a part of something bigger. The curriculum has gone above and beyond the purpose of being an educational tool, it has become a mechanism for mobilization, a means of inspiring thought, vision, and purpose for many students. Seeing graduates from the course find jobs in their respective industries, seeing students give back and teach others, and seeing students keeping in touch about their plans to become more green in everything they do, is what keeps me teaching the ROOTS of Success curriculum. In these moments I know I am truly making an impact with the work I am doing. I know I am helping to build leaders who will continue work of building a greener, more equitable economy for years to come.