Nancy Metzger-Carter is the Sustainability Curriculum Coordinator, teaches both Humanities and STEM courses, and leads the Schools for Climate Action campaign (S4CA). Nancy grew up in Michigan, where she spent most of her summers outdoors gardening, catching frogs and making things out of cattails. When it came time for college, she wanted a complete and utter change of geography and culture, and ended up at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where she studied the concept of sense of place and culture. During college she spent her time guiding outdoor adventure trips in canyon country and studied resource extraction on the Navajo reservation. Nancy built upon her academic foundation in her masters program at Prescott College where she studied project-based learning that was centered in the concept of place. Fascinated by the concept of geography and culture, and the human impacts on the earth, she ventured to California to live on Catalina Island and work as a teacher naturalist for four years. After many years of living nomadically, she wanted to settle down and develop deeper bonds with students than the 1 week intensives she was used to on the island.
She was hired at San Domenico in 2004 as a resident faculty and STEM teacher and then quickly stepped into the role of Director of Sustainability and Service Learning where she focused on new, emergent environmental education pedagogy. After the birth of her first child in 2008, Nancy and her family moved up to West Sonoma County and she was hired to create a place-based, interdisciplinary middle school program at a local charter school and remained there for 5 years. When Sonoma Academy was hiring for a sustainability educator- Nancy jumped at the chance.
“I knew the independent school space was where I wanted to teach- in order to be an early adopter in areas like climate change education you need trust and encouragement from administration, and Sonoma Academy has ‘nurturing inspiring teachers’ right there in our mission statement.”
Nancy’s role over the last 5 years has expanded to include teaching AS Environmental Science and a new course she created called Civic Engagement, Social Movements and Climate Change. This interdisciplinary humanities class focuses on systems-based, climate justice education by blending civic education, historical social movements, theories of change, and climate science. During this class, and exploratory, her students facilitate the nationally acclaimed Schools for Climate Action campaign and actively engage in writing local, state and federal climate policy as a part of the program. In 2019, her students worked with Rep Barbara Lee to co-author House Resolution 29: Supporting the Teaching of Climate Change in Schools. In 2020, her students co-authored SCR53, Declaring a Climate Emergency in California which is up for a final vote in the CA Assembly this fall. In March 2022, her students introduced House Resolution 975, Expressing the mental health impacts of recurrent climate-related disasters on youth with Rep Mike Thompson (CA) and Rep Kathy Castor (FL). This legislation is the first in Congress to address the intersection of youth mental health and the climate crisis and was written word-for-word by our Sonoma Academy students. Nancy empowers our students to meet with elected officials, and partner with them to have a voice in climate policy, since the policies drafted today will affect them the most. Students in the Schools for Climate Action program have participated in over 120 congressional meetings urging climate action while also training, empowering, and partnering with high school students from around the country to meet with their elected officials. Nancy and our students in the Schools for Climate Action program have been featured in Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Bloomberg Green, Teen Vogue and Mashable and in 2022 Schools for Climate Action won the American Climate Leadership Awards. Her students speak regularly at national conferences on the importance of youth-led climate initiatives. Nancy continues to focus on innovation in climate justice education seeking to create replicable frameworks for other teachers and youth leaders nationwide.
In Fall 2022, Nancy added Humanities 1 to her classes and she’s thrilled to be able to integrate her passions and background with the essential question in Humanities 1: How does geography shape culture?
When asked about her success in the climate education space, Nancy replies “SA has been a leader in addressing the intersection between humans and the environment, and because this ethos is woven into the fabric of the school, I’ve been able to have the space to innovate. Once students know the extent of the climate crisis, they want to act- in fact- they need to act in order to feel a sense of agency in their future. I point them towards the power of civic engagement, science communication, equitable policy, and encourage them to seek systemic, interdisciplinary solutions. Then I get out of the way so their voice can lead on the climate policies that will affect them the most.”
Schools for Climate Action (S4CA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots campaign that seeks to engage the education sector to speak up for generational climate justice. This youth-adult campaign works to train teachers and empower students to utilize climate justice education as an essential solution to the climate crisis.