Director’s Message

I’m consistently excited by our engaged and focused emerging leaders. Young people are not only identifying our world’s mo

st pressing problems, but designing and implementing innovative solutions. Youth activists are making a significant difference in our country in new and surprising ways, including Our Children’s Trust suing the United States to secure the legal right to a safe climate and the wave of youth supporting Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal (GND) – “a program of investments in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, meant to transform not just the energy sector, but the entire economy,” as described by a recent Vox article.

Our MarinSEL community is an important part of this youth leadership movement. iMatter– the community partner for one of our sophomore MarinSEL LEAD project teams – supports young people to push local leaders to do what is necessary to end the climate crisis and transition to a just, sustainable society. From community awareness projects to speaking engagements to federal lawsuits to worldwide marches, iMatter is committed to intergenerational collaboration, with young people driving the vision and the ideas and adults supporting.

The MarinSEL iMatter team has met with local leaders, including California State Assemblymember Marc Levine, to advance a Marin GND which was passed by the Marin County Board of Supervisors last week. Their next step is to demand state-level climate action via a statewide Green New Deal bill in an campaign called “California Can’t Wait.” You can follow the MSEL iMatter team on Instagram.

Other impressive sophomore LEAD projects include bike and carpool incentives at TL, food system solutions, equity in transportation, and energy efficiency solutions in green buildings.

The accomplishments of our youth blows me away every year. With the amazing support from community partners, teachers, and parents, our students are provided environmental literacy AND the opportunity engage and lead climate action in their community. We’re facing huge climate issues and one MarinSEL group cannot solve them all, but I have full confidence that our young people are creating a thriving, sustainable world.


Cyane Dandridge

Senior Internship Updates

By: Sheri Matteo

Every MarinSEL senior is required to complete a 120-hour internship. We sat down with four current seniors to get the scoop on their internship positions.

Ally Teper: Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) in San Rafael

How often do you work?  I go in three days a week for a total of five hours each week.

What do you do for your job?  What skills does it require? I do a lot of social media managing, and some design on a website called Canva. My internship requires me to be on time and always check my emails. Keeping up with deadlines is important.

What made you interested in this organization/position?  I’m interested in pursuing marketing as a possible career after college. My internship is a marketing and communications internship so it immediately attracted my attention.

What has been your biggest challenge?  My biggest challenge was writing an article about an event which I didn’t attend.

What do you hope to take away from this experience?  I hope to take away experience working at a desk job in an office, as well as some professional article writing skills and researching skills.


Micaela Matteo Smith: Girls Garage in Berkeley, a creative, safe space to teach females of all ages valuable skills in different STEM and engineering fields.

How often do you work?  I try to work twice a week but it has been pretty difficult to do that with my extra-curricular activities and sport. I work Monday’s with the teen class and Thursdays with the 9-12 year old class.

What do you do for your job?  What skills does it require? Mondays: I mainly help out as an assistant to the class, grabbing odds and ends and circling around to see how everyone is doing. I also get to participate by sharing ideas and taking part in some of the activities the girls are doing. Thursdays: I co-teach a basic wood-working class that does a lot of the same projects we do in MSEL engineering. The girls love it!

What made you interested in this organization/position?  This organization is truly unique. It’s entirely female run and operated. It helps bolster self-confidence in girls and gives them a safe space to be creative while learning practical and valuable skills. I loved Ms. O’s engineering class and wanted to do more work like that (and more work with her) so it was a no lose situation. As a plus, I get to work with really cool and smart girls while I teach and help out.

What has been your biggest challenge?  The only challenge I’ve really had is scheduling conflicts and making up hours from that. Everything else has run super smoothly.

What do you hope to take away from this experience?  I hope to learn more about engineering and come away with a well rounded skill set. I want to be able to do any repairs in a home (or dorm) so I don’t have to rely on other people to fix stuff for me. I also hope to gain some new friends in different parts of the Bay Area and start to build a list of contacts for the future.

Hayden Nuyens:  Intern at the Community Media Center of Marin

How often do you work?  The hours for my internship are very fluid. Because of the self-driven nature of the studio, I often sit down for a couple hours a week when I have a creative stroke and start writing out whatever I have in mind. Most of my hours come in large chunks when taking classes or during production of a project, though.

What do you do for your job?  What skills does it require? As an intern, my main job around the studio is to help other community members make their ideas happen. Having taken several classes in using the studio space as well as various tools, I am qualified to help crew on other people’s productions when needed. Other than that, the studio encourages me to take on my own projects and create them at my own discretion. For that part of it, the other classes in Final Cut and lighting, as well as my previous filmmaking experience, comes in handy.

What made you interested in this organization/position?  One of my first hobbies growing up was filmmaking. It started as just short sketches I would make with my friends whenever I had even a strand of an idea, but as I went into middle school I began making more cohesive works (though not many). When I came into high school, I suddenly had neither the time nor the tools to continue this hobby, so when I saw an opportunity to resurrect it through the MarinSEL internships, I was pretty excited, to say the least.

What has been your biggest challenge?  During the first semester, there were two factors actively working against me: the educational requirements at the studio and my Fall sport. If you want to use a tool or space at the studio, you need to take a class (and often several classes at that) on whatever tool or space that is. Once you’re cleared, you can use it however or really whenever you want. These classes are scheduled at set times on set days. Because of daily water polo practices and games, I could never actually make any of the classes, and, in effect, couldn’t use anything at the studio. Thankfully, because of the flexible and self-motivated nature of the program, I was able to get many hours through pre-production and planning my main projects.

What do you hope to take away from this experience?  I hope I can get a deeper appreciation of the mediums I express myself through, as well as a better understanding of how community media stations operate. Most personally, however, I hope I can make some things to be proud of.


Ana Ostrovsky: Walker Creek Ranch (West Marin)

How often do you work?  I work twice a week, for an average of 6 hours a week.

What do you do for your job?  What skills does it require? I assist in general garden maintenance of the oneacre organic garden on campus. This means turning beds, planting, harvesting, irrigation, flipping compost, animal care, land management and winterizing the garden. It requires general gardening skills, but I am learning a lot of important farming techniques. I am also creating a garden manual since it is the winter season right now. This will include a plan for the coming year and information on Walker Creek’s specific systems so we can transfer important knowledge about how to take care of the space. This will also include curriculum that I am helping to develop.

What made you interested in this organization/position?  I want to have my own outdoor ed farm someday and I knew I wanted to do something outside that involved outdoor education.

What has been your biggest challenge?  It is a pretty long drive twice a week and does use a lot of gas.

What do you hope to take away from this experience?  I hope to feel confident working on this scale garden and learn how to develop an effective curriculum.

MarinSEL Freshmen Hone Design Skills for Zero Net Energy Project

By: Shannon Takaoka

The state of California has a number of ambitious clean energy goals and one of these is the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) building mandate, which will require all new residential construction to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction to be ZNE by 2030. Additionally, California is targeting 50 percent of existing commercial buildings for retrofitting to ZNE by 2030 and 50 percent of new major renovations of state buildings by 2025.

For a building to be considered ZNE, the net amount of energy consumed must be less than or equal to zero. In order to reach ZNE, a building must:

  • Be built or upgraded using products like LED lights, energy star appliances,and other technologies that are energy-efficient.
  • Encourage behaviors meant to conserve energy, such as turning off lights, running only full loads in washing machines and dishwashers, etc.
  • Include passive design elements such as natural light for light and heat, vents for air circulation and deciduous trees to provide shade in summer and allow light to pass through in winter.
  • Generate remaining energy needs on site, most commonly through solar panels and wind turbines.

This is the ZNE equation:

Total energy – energy efficient upgrades – energy conservation – energy production = zero

Ray McClintock’s freshman students are currently learning about this concept through innovative hands-on course work. Earlier this semester, students were tasked with collecting data in their own homes to better understand typical energy consumption patterns. They used Watt-meters to measure appliance energy, light energy and other sources of energy generation inside the home. They are also studying modern architecture to explore passive design elements, and are learning about how energy is transferred from photons in sunlight to usable electricity.

McClintock’s class will culminate in the students designing and building 3-D models of ZNE homes using recycled materials. Each model will represent all aspects of the ZNE equation, with the specific elements of individual homes left up to the students’ creative design. Students will present their homes to industry professionals in a museum walk format at the end of the semester.

How to Survive, Thrive in MarinSEL (Part 2)

By: Georgie Craig

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth, find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson, igniter of the environmental movement in the United States

Advice, wisdom, and lived experience is worth little unless it’s shared. In the last newsletter, we checked in with two MarinSEL freshman to get their take on how their first year with the program is going and to find out what lessons they’ve learned and advice they’d offer for the incoming class. In this issue, it’s the sophomore and juniors’ turn! (Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.)

Sophomore Joey Scardina

“I wish I knew better ways to manage my time, since we have a lot of projects we work on after school. And we spend most of our time doing those projects outside of school. I wish a freshman would have told me to expect having to balance your MarinSEL and non-MarinSEL classes. That’s because the classes we have in the program are a lot different than those outside of it. You are in an entirely different setting with different people when you are in non-MarinSEL classes.”

A piece of advice from Joey: “To succeed in the MarinSEL program or make it work a lot better for yourself, you need to take opportunities that are given to you. Even if you’re not comfortable with the task, because it can somehow benefit you in the end and become helpful in ways throughout your years in the program.”

Sophomore Olivia Yoakum

“Don’t worry about being the most successful project group. You mainly should just learn how your class works together in many different settings. How can you make your group most successful without letting someone slack off or letting someone handle the majority of the work? I wish someone told me at the beginning of freshman year that grades don’t matter as much as just finding your place and a kind of routine that can help you get through high school with ease. Finding a friend group, establishing a trusting teacher, and slowly deciding your academic future is what freshman year is all about.”

A piece of advice from Olivia: “Find your place! Figure out what brought you to the MarinSEL program and then you will know how to best succeed in it. Whether it is the difference we make in the community, the environmentalism aspect, or the project-based learning curriculum. Once you decide what you are most interested in, achieving that in these next four years through the many opportunities the program provides will be more enjoyable and successful for you.”

Junior Sofia Kakleas

“As a sophomore, I wish I knew how important my relationships with my peers would be. I knew as a freshman that bonding was a big part of MarinSEL, especially while participating in LEAD projects. Moving into sophomore year, you are assigned not two but one LEAD project. This means you spend about eight months together on one project that gets worked on about twice a week. Creating relationships with peers is important as it will allow a smoother working period and help build new friendships. I wish I knew this, as I did not realize how much my class would impact me, and it would have been very helpful to know going into 10th grade. Also, junior year is tougher than it sounds. Many juniors expressed how difficult it was, but never really expanded on why. I wish someone told me that my workload and stress levels would increase. Not only are you juggling your MarinSEL business but also AP classes, college preparation, SAT, ACT, and much more. Junior year has been great so far as I have learned so much in all my advanced classes, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that time management is highly needed this year! Figuring out my schedule during the summer would have benefited me.”
A piece of advice from Sofia: “To make the MarinSEL program work, go in with positivity and an open mind. If you focus on making new friendships and working hard, it will make it very easy for you to transition! Negativity will only pull you back.”

Junior Charlotte Kamman 

“Before sophomore year in the MarinSEL program, I’d wish I’d known that leadership sometimes requires one to be assertive or authoritative. MarinSEL sophomores spend a week as counselors at the Walker Creek Outdoor Education Center to gain leadership experience. Knowing this before Walker Creek would have allowed me to be a more effective leader for my campers throughout the week. Also, I wish a junior had told me to expect a more hands-off teaching approach for sophomore year. During sophomore year, students have much more personal control of the structure, organization, and goals of their projects than they did during freshman year. Knowing this beforehand would have taught me to ask questions and pay more attention to my organization early on in sophomore year. As a junior this year, I will definitely give this advice to the MarinSEL sophomores that I know.”

A piece of advice from Charlotte: “My best advice for success in the MainSEL program is to take advantage of the opportunities. MarinSEL provides occasions to meet new people. MarinSEL does an amazing job of developing a network of students, community, and experts in various fields. I highly recommend reaching out to this network for support and opportunities. Also, once one has reached out, it’s crucial that you follow up and maintain these valuable relationships.”

Junior Jocelyn Tsai 

“I wish I knew that sophomore year was going to be much harder than freshman year. I had way more tests and homework sophomore year, so I had to use my time efficiently. I wish a junior had told me to put time aside for yourself. Junior year is very stressful, so it’s important to have time to take a deep breath and relax.”

One piece of advice from Jocelyn: “Go outside of your comfort zone and take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.”


In the next issue, we will share advice from MarinSEL seniors and alumni of the program.


Sophomore LEAD Project Presentations

That’s a wrap on an incredibly successful year of 10th grade projects! Sophomores gave their final LEAD Project Presentations on Wednesday and Friday, March 20th and 22nd.

The sophomore Equity in Transportation group at the bike fair they organized for their project.

Spotlight on Sustainable Enterprises

Nine MarinSEL 11th Grade Businesses Now Selling!

Every fall, MarinSEL juniors are tasked with writing a sustainable business plan, which they pitch to a panel of mock investors. This year, nine of the most promising businesses were selected for spring-time implementation. Check out the amazing products these student-run businesses are offering!

Contact Info for Businesses:

Nat’s Organic Snacks: Organic, GF, vegan, soy-free snacks
Contact to purchase!

Flatulence Fix: A foraged fennel tea
Contact to purchase!

Weed Warrior: Environmentally Friendly & Sustainable Weed Killer
Contact to purchase!

Cali Coasters: Handcrafted Coasters from Recycled Corks
Contact to purchase!

Neat Treats: Dog Treats Made In A Clean Way. Organic, all-natural, and preservative free treats that your pet will love!
Visit to purchase!

Fruity Love: Fresh and Organic Dehydrated Fruit, Made Simple!
Message to purchase!

SeaScrubs: 4-in-1 Personal Care Product
Message to purchase!

Big Chedda’s Seed Spreddas: Walking Stick & Key Chain Seed Spreaders
Visit or contact to purchase!

Swirl: Elegant Jewelry Made from Reclaimed Metals
Visit to purchase!

Want to see more of these businesses? Join us at the MarinSEL Green Business Leaders Mixer on April 25th! Tickets are on sale now.

Alumni Corner

Angelique Avanozian graduated MSEL in 2016, and is now at the University of Puget Sound (UPS) in Tacoma, Washington. We spoke with her in January of 2019.

MarinSEL: Hello, Angelique!! Thank you for carving out some time with us! First off, how did you decide that UPS was the best fit for you? What criterion drove your decision?

AA: I honestly was attracted to UPS because of its distance from home, Pacific Northwestern beauty, and the fact that I knew no one up here. I wanted a fresh start. The campus and buildings are hauntingly similar to Hogwarts, and I fell in love with the cozy feel. Academically, I knew that this college was a good fit for me because of its reputation for intense academic rigor. UPS is a small liberal arts school, so there are resources everywhere that can assist with academic and career-oriented decisions. This was attractive to me.

MarinSEL: Tell us about your course of study?

AA: I’m majoring in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. My focus is criminal psychology, as I am working towards a career as a criminal investigator. I also plan to teach kids in juvenile detention centers. I’m currently writing my thesis on the cultural relativity of psychological diagnoses (particularly antisocial personality disorders, like psychopathy and sociopathy) and the negative effects of stigmatization. I’ve been conducting a lot of research on these topics and am narrowing my focus every day. I recently developed and validated a psychological measure to gauge empathy levels, and am particularly interested in working with individuals that lack empathy.

MarinSEL: That is incredibly interesting! Do you have any time for extra-curricular activities or clubs?

AA: I’m involved in a few campus-based clubs and movements, although not many. I’m a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honors Society, and am waiting to find out about induction into the Mortar Board National Senior Honors Society. Through these groups, I participate in campus lectures and volunteer-work around the community. These groups are helping me grow by keeping me involved with the campus and community, and motivating my academic effort. I am also in a few recreational clubs, like a book club and knitting club. These help me grow by enabling time for leisure and hobbies 🙂

MarinSEL: Are you working, too?

AA: I have a dual job, working as the Psychology Department Assistant and PSYC101 Research Proposal Project Tutor. My job is a work-study job, so some of my time is spent in the office running errands, and doing homework when the office is quiet. As a writing tutor, I help PSYC101 students develop and refine their research proposals. I absolutely love my job. Assisting students with their work helps me grow as a writer and communicator, as being able to teach a skill is often the best way to hone it down. Previously, I worked on campus as a “Costume Stitcher,” and sewed costumes for the Theatre Department. That was really fun, and I accepted the position in the Psychology Department because I wanted to start working closer to my career goals. I also volunteer as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line. (I recommend checking it out and sharing it around; it’s an amazing resource for people experiencing any type of crisis). This helps me understand the psychological processes behind trauma, and enables me to gain experience in emergency situations. This is crucial for my intended line of work.

MarinSEL: What skills from MSEL do you think prepared you for college?

AA: MSEL flooded me with communication skills. The types of communication that I engage with on a daily basis have a broad range: public speaking, formal writing, teaching, counseling, and even socializing. MSEL gave me the opportunity to practice these types of communication and more. In terms of leadership skills, MSEL taught me something crucial: being a leader does not mean being the most dominant presence in a team. It means listening to team members, encouraging them to voice their ideas, and raising everybody up while guiding progress. This has been fundamental to my work. Often times, women in positions of power gain negative reputations. It’s hard to be a strong woman in this society without being viewed as “bossy,” “work-addicted,” etc. MSEL taught me how to work well in leadership positions while still prioritizing the well being of my team members. This combats negative stereotypes. Thank you, MSEL.

MarinSEL: Of your four years in MSEL, which project stands out as your favorite? (LEAD, Internship, Sustainable Business) Why?

AA: The LEAD projects stood out to me the most, because they are the most representative of the types of work and actions that many college students (and adults in general) pursue frequently. LEAD projects taught me how to engage with external, professional organizations and individuals. After working on the Hydration Station project (one of my LEAD projects), I was invited to conduct research for the company FloWater, which was a start-up green-tech company at the time. Because of LEAD projects, adult professionals actually took us seriously. Plus, they were remarkably creative and fun.

MarinSEL: Have you considered expanding upon one of your projects?

AA: I expanded on my Sustainable Business project. My business plan was called “ReKnit,” and it entailed using thrifted yarn to create new accessories (like socks, hats, and scarves), with one out of every five items being donated to the Center for Domestic Peace. After this project, I knit and sold hats in the bookstore at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where I did my senior internship.

MarinSEL: Is there anything you want to encourage the MSEL program to hang on to, change, and/or continue?

AA: I encourage MSEL to hold on to the Sustainable Business project, because it’s very rare for students to understand the processes behind development and commencement of a business. I really enjoyed the autonomy and sense of empowerment that came with this project.

MarinSEL: Do you have any advice for current MSEL students?

AA: I understand (and agree) that it may be hard to know what you want to “do with your life” right now, but I encourage current MSEL students to engage with projects that have some relevance to their broader passions or potential career goals. This creates a smooth framework of pursuits that tracks your progress in a certain area. Not only does this consistency look good on applications and resumes, but it also makes future projects easier and more fun to pursue, as you have myriad background knowledge and resources.

MarinSEL: Looking back, would you have done anything differently during high school?

AA: I recognize that the following regret is unconventional, but I wish that I had spent more time having fun in high school. I have always been primarily academically oriented and therefore gave up a lot of my social life for school and work. Looking back, and even ahead, I realize that my youth is supposed to be enjoyed. I am very proud of my accomplishments but I strive to take more time for myself, doing the things I love. My motto is: do your best and have fun.

MarinSEL: Last question! How do you picture yourself making a difference in the world?

AA: My primary focus is working with people who have the desire to harm others or themselves. I am the most interested in cases of severe psychological disorder and trauma. I picture myself making a difference in the world through a series of steps: (1) assisting underprivileged and “delinquent” kids in gaining an education and pursuing work that they actually love, (2) counseling individuals experiencing thoughts of self-harm and suicide, and (3) generating more societal empathy for individuals that do not share our same emotional and psychological processes. This means helping individuals with psychological disorders in having the same rights and opportunities as “neurotypical” individuals. We live in a society that preaches diversity but forces neurotypically different people to conform to societal standards. I hope to make a small difference in the world by embracing neurodiversity.

As I’m writing this, I recognize that a lot of my work and affiliations seems kind of daunting. I want to emphasize that I am just a normal person and normal student. These kinds of accomplishments just kind of accumulate and become second nature once you move forth with your education and work. I am not an incredibly “smart” person, it’s just that I work really hard and incorporate my passions everywhere that I can. I am so grateful to MSEL for providing an environment in which all of this growth was possible.

I am also really grateful to have been considered for the Alumni Corner in the MSEL Newsletter. I highly appreciate that you reached out to me, and would love to get more involved. Thank you!

Green Fling 2019

Thank you so much to all who danced the night away and gave generously to our program at Carnaval, the biggest MarinSEL fundraiser of the year! Check out the photos here!

Upcoming Events

Sophomore LEAD Presentations – March 20 AND 22, 2019 10:40am -12:15pm (see schedule)

MarinSEL Family Picnic – April 20, 2019 12pm – 2pm

Green Business Leaders Mixer: The Next Wave – April 25, 2019 5pm – 7:30pm

Senior Poster Symposium – May 21, 2019 5pm – 7pm

MarinSEL Awards Night, May 21, 2019 7pm – 9pm

Senior Celebration, May 31, 2019, 5:30pm – 9pm