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Solution Seeker Spotlight: Matthew Landers, Pleasant Glade Elementary

Each month we feature staff members dedicated to being Solution Seekers in their schools.   

Matthew Landers with a studentMatthew Landers, 5th-grade teacher at Pleasant Glade Elementary, teaches his students the importance of making a difference in their community, and they have risen to the challenge! His class has spearheaded efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle in their school cafeteria with impressive results. 

Tell us about yourself.  

I have been bike commuter to Pleasant Glade Elementary (14 miles) most days for the past 22 years. I have 3 amazing children who will all be graduating from college soon.  

What do you like best about your job?   

I like the energy, exuberance, and excitement of working with young people and making a difference in their lives.  

Why is being a Solution Seeker important to you?  

When looking at environmental issues with my students, I realized there were many things we could do to make a difference. As educators, it's especially important for us to stand up and do the right thing, even though it may take a bit more effort to set an example for our students. And perhaps teaching them something that they might not be learning at home. 

Poster presentation on green utensils, composting, and the school share box

Can you share a story where you experienced problem-solving in action?   

When my class and I noticed the large amount of food and recycling being treated as waste, we realized that we needed to do something. Starting in November of 2022, the students and staff at Pleasant Glade Elementary have:  

  • Implemented a food-sharing program that has reallocated over 200 pounds of food with students.    
  • Composted over 1,200 pounds of food.   
  • Recycled or repurposed over 3,500 lunch bags that are used during breakfast. 
  • Moved from using plastic utensils to durable utensils during lunch with our 4th and 5th graders (all of which was slated for the landfill).  

We are working to grow our program to include all Pleasant Glade students and other schools in the district.

Matthew talks to students clearing their lunch traysMatthew talks to a student in the lunch line