Left: The international teachers attending the Nobel Prize Teacher Summit on Climate Changes on the steps of the Nobel Prize Museum. Right: Global sustainability scientist Johann Rockström speaking at the summit.
Fresh from returning from the Nobel Prize Teacher Summit on Climate Change in Stockholm, CA environmental and Earth systems science teacher Kiley Remiszewski understands more clearly than ever that the choices educators make in addressing climate change with their students will have an impact that will last for generations.
Remiszewski was one of 100 teachers from 30 countries and various fields of study who arrived for three days of programming in advance of the official summit on October 11. The theme of the conference: “Climate change changes everything.”
In teams, the international teachers visited several Swedish schools to learn how they are addressing climate change in their curricula. On her team, Remiszewski got to know teachers from Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and Colombia, as well as educators from across the United States. Now they’re part of her network, and they plan to keep in touch. “It’s rare to meet so many teachers from all over the world,” Remiszewski says. “we were sent off in groups to navigate the city ourselves, and we felt confident sharing with one another. Hearing about others’ lives and perspectives is so important for considering different approaches.”
At the daylong summit that followed, the international educators joined 300 Swedish teachers for a series of presentations from the likes of Mario J. Molina, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his work in atmospheric chemistry concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone; Hiroshi Amano, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 for his invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes, which paved the way for energy-saving white LED lights; and Johann Rockström, an internationally recognized professor of environmental science and co-chair of the world’s largest research network for global sustainability science, Future Earth. Remiszewski was particularly excited to meet Rockström — her advanced environmental science course syllabi include his work.
Although the focus of the summit was familiar content to Remiszewski, she took away ideas for engaging with students in ways that are “productive, and not just scary,” she says. “Yes, young people should be angry, but not full of despair.”
One workshop asked attendees, “Who can save the world?” Swedish facilitators engaged participants in examining the stories they tell themselves about climate change, acknowledging the country’s struggle with its carbon footprint because of a reliance on imports, and regional conflicts over the timber and extractive mining industries. “Some of the problems they’re dealing with are universal,” Remiszewski says. “It was thoughtful work that focused on making sure we’re telling more than one story.”
Remiszewski returned reinvigorated and grateful for the opportunity to step outside her usual frame of reference. “I left with a renewed sense that I don’t have to sugarcoat the climate crisis for students,” she says. “I can help them process it constructively and feel empowered to take a stand for a path forward. We have the science. We have a plan. Now we need the will to take action.”
As I write to you today, our world is still grappling with the great challenges that COVID-19 has created. Indeed, the situation in many places has unfortunately grown considerably worse since my last letter. I offer my sincere condolences to those of you who have suffered illness or lost loved ones to this pandemic. This disease has caused extraordinary pain, stress, and dismay on so many levels. We must all find ways to focus on hope and the prospects of the recovery that will come, and the opportunities that any crisis presents to assert our powers of caring and goodness. We hope you are leaning on and helping those around you.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic prevented Concord Academy alumnae/i from returning to campus, it did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for reconnecting with classmates, faculty and staff, and fellow CA graduates as part of the school’s first Virtual Reunion. More than 225 alumnae/i joined via videoconference as CA hosted three special reunion programs, the annual Alumnae/i Association Assembly, and 13 virtual class gatherings for reunion classes over four days in early June.
Commencement 2020: Virtual Ceremony Recognizes Real Achievement, and Speaker Ambassador Samantha Power Offers a Simple Suggestion for Individual Action
In Concord Academy’s 98th year, Commencement didn’t exactly resemble the annual ceremony we’re accustomed to. The Covid-19 pandemic may have kept the 98 honorees from physically attending the ceremony, but their presence was felt. A mixture of prerecorded video and live remarks and student recognition for diplomas allowed CA to preserve many of the hallmarks that distinguish the school’s graduation ceremony. And Ambassador Samantha Power, by livestream, offered words of wisdom for the class of 2020.