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Sarah R., MA

As an elementary school teacher, I have the unique opportunity to teach my students about the science of healthy air. I have often shared with my students the example of how air pollution can cause me to have an asthma attack. Monitoring the air quality where I live is an integral part of my remaining healthy enough to be present in the classroom every day for my students.

The charter school where I have the pleasure of teaching emphasizes a service based learning curriculum. Building upon the healthy air lessons I teach in the classroom, I also lead our environmental club, aptly named the Waste Watchers Group. The club's work recently earned our school the prestigious title of Nation's Greenest School. With that honor, we received an electric hybrid school bus that generates half the emissions of a traditional school bus.

This bus has become a tremendous teaching aid when leading discussions on how air pollution is a problem we can tackle given the necessary will power. Like I always tell my students, "Where there is a will, there is a way."

The same holds true for my asthma. I'm a triathlete and enjoy participating in the Lung Association's bike treks. I must always keep my inhaler within easy reach and often cannot finish a race without it. Because many of my students have asthma, I hope that my example encourages them to not let their disease stand in the way of their leading the fullest lives possible.

I also hope that my teaching the virtues of healthy air will mean that my students with asthma can someday realize a future where air pollution will not cause or worsen their disease. Until then, I will keep fighting for air both inside the classroom and along every mile I run.

First Published: March 12, 2012

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