Sustainability Spotlight: Sheri Christen at Maxey Elementary School

Our last Sustainability Spotlight of 2023 is shining on Sheri Christen at Maxey Elementary School!

Christen is in her 36th year with LPS and her 16th year at Maxey. During her time with the district, she served as a special education teacher and an administrator before becoming Maxey’s school librarian.

Christen’s proximity to the Maxey garden space, as well as her interest in sustainability, prompted her to become the school’s Sustainability Champion. “This is what we need to be doing for our world,” she said.

While Christen plays an integral role in maintaining the school garden, she said that many other people have made the space what it is today. Parents in Maxey’s PTO helped coordinate renovations in 2020 and 2021, and Dr. Doug Golick, Maxey parent and UNL professor, has led students in bee and insect observations. Christen’s husband even created a DIY algae control solution made of straw for the pond.

Because of these collaborative efforts, the garden is a space for everyone at Maxey.

Art teachers bring students into the garden to sketch the landscape, grade-level classrooms visit to read and write in the space, and Christen enlists students to help feed the fish and turtles in the pond.

Recent grant funds provided nature blocks, magnifiers, and bug collection and viewing cups for student use in the space, too.

For those who want to start a garden or other sustainability project at their school, Christen said she understands the feeling of not knowing how or when you will get things done.

What’s important, though, is just getting started. “You almost just have to forge ahead and do it and not worry about if other people are going to jump in and do it or not,” she said.

Christen brings this can-do attitude into her work beyond the garden, as well. 

She serves as co-captain of the Maxey BackPack Program and leads the school’s student “Maximizers” in fundraising efforts for the Lincoln Food Bank BackPack Program. Christen and the Maximizers hold walkathons and coordinate awareness and donation days to support students experiencing food insecurity over weekends and school breaks. 

The Maximizers also play a role in sustainability at the school, collecting recycling from offices and classrooms each week.

Thank you so much to Sheri Christen and everyone at Maxey Elementary School for contributing to sustainability at LPS!