Staff Case Study – ISP Futures

In 2020, we launched the ISP Futures programme to underpin our commitment to building a more environmentally sustainable world.

A part of the programme is geared to offsetting our carbon footprint as an organisation – we have committed to planting a tree for each student and staff member with our partner Tree-Nation with the commitment of planting a million trees by 2025. Students will also have the opportunity to visit our planting sites around the world to learn more about the process, the planting sites and trees indigenous to those countries.

The other important strand of ISP Futures is to continually encourage our schools to develop their knowledge and understanding of environmental issues and take action. ISP schools organise activities with the wider local community to raise awareness locally around environmental awareness days such as Earth Day and World Environment Day.

An interview with Esther Valerdi, Head of Science, ITJ Santa Monica, Mexico City

Esther Valerdi

As part of raising awareness for this year’s ISP Futures programme, we interviewed Esther Valerdi, the Head of Science at ITJ Santa Monica in Mexico City, who was inspired to lead on the ISP Futures programme in her school last year to help students develop skills to be more aware of and help our environment.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role promoting ISP Futures in your school.

Hi, I am Esther Valerdi, a chemistry teacher at ITJ Santa Monica in Mexico. I am the Head of Science in middle and high school. As a science teacher, I know that our students need to develop skills that allow them to take care of the environment. When I read about the ISP Futures project, I thought it would great to be able to be part of it. So as Head of Science, I became a Promoter of the ISP Futures program. My students made works of art about nature to pay tribute to our planet on May 15th, a day without trash. We also celebrated June 5th, International Environment Day, by planting a tree or a plant.

Why do you think it is important to teach your students about environmental issues? 

As a science teacher, I teach my students about the environmental problems that exist in our planet. However, it is my responsibility that they raise awareness of these issues amongst themselves and within their community. They need to make good decisions and find solutions to take care of our planet.

What impact has the ISP Futures campaign had on your students?

After several months of being at home, in absolute confinement, and with online classes, The ISP Futures project generated enthusiasm among the students. They created works of art to express their respect for nature. They were able to share their pieces of art with friends and family. It helped to create awareness of caring for the environment in its closest circle. It was also very emotional to go out to plant a tree in their garden or park near their home. Despite the pandemic, they felt they made a change and helped to improve the environment. They felt useful, like change promoters. For adolescents, this has a great value, to be recognized.

What have been the most rewarding moments of the programme for your students? 

My students and I had many rewarding moments. When they shared their works of art and their planting trees pictures on the school’s social media. They received comments from our community congratulating and acknowledging their exceptional work. For my students, this filled them with satisfaction and motivated them to continue contributing to the care of our planet.

What do you and your students hope to change in your school in the next year in terms of environmental sustainability? Are there any long-term sustainability goals for students and the school?

We have several goals for this school year. We will launch a campaign to promote the use of reusable water bottles to avoid polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles waste.

Our second goal is to reforest a specific area close to our community. And finally, all middle and high school teachers will only receive online assignments. It will help to reduce the use of paper.

How does connecting with other ISP schools and students around the world help to motivate and inspire you?

Being in contact with the projects developed by other ISP member schools allows me to motivate my students. It is incredible to know what they are doing in other parts of the world. We can take some ideas as well as share ours. Participating in the webinars gives us a global vision of environmental problems and proposals to solve them.


You can view the images from Esther’s and students’ environmental projects below.

You can also read more about the ISP Futures programme here as well as watch this year’s ISP Futures video featuring the opportunity for ISP students to apply for student-led environmental grants.

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