Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life: Holly Orians

Photo of Holly Orian

The quote “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” summarizes the passion and commitment Holly Orians has for the environmental education program at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science.

Holly Orians has been the key to its success. This is her 16th year at WMAES and she doesn’t see herself leaving until she retires.

Sixteen years ago Holly was working for the DNR at a school located in Lapeer, MI. Holly was instrumental in the development of their environmental education program. When Sid Faucette, Founder of Choice Schools Associates, met Holly he was impressed by her energy, enthusiasm and creative ideas. He knew she would be the right fit for WMAES.

“I was confident that Holly could breathe environmental energy into a good school ready to become great,” said Faucette. “She did an excellent job of re-imagining environmental into the educational program and laying the foundation for West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science to become recognized nationally as outstanding K-12 education.”

The students at WMAES are lucky to have Orians. They are able to have class outside and experience the world of environmental education. They get to engage in problem-solving and take action to improve the environment.

Some of the amazing things that students partake in through Orians’ leadership are making maple syrup, snow-shoeing outside, harvesting bees and their hives, as well as outside and inside gardens (tower garden: aeroponic growing system). The list goes on and on.

She has also been instrumental in projects involving grants for solar energy and work boots from Columbia for students.

Through her 16 years, she has seen the evolution of environmental education go through different stages and names: outdoor education, hands-on education, environmental education and now place-based education.

However, there is one thing that remains consistent through it all, says Orians, and that is her love for seeking justice for the environment so that we can all continue to grow and learn. It is what gives her drive and ambition to do more.

More importantly, she says “teaching allows me to let my creativity thrive and create dynamic learning opportunities for students. I get to cultivate new learners and develop critical thinking skills to students. That is the real drive.”

“Holly has such a deep passion for providing students the opportunity to take part in place-based education! Her innovative ideas around cross-curricular activities allow students at WMAES to have a very unique learning experience,” Kerri Barrett, elementary principal of WMAES commented.

“She is building her legacy at WMAES and we are so proud. Her commitment to making WMAES environmentally focused at every level is impressionable. She truly ensures that WMAES is concentrated on making sustainable choices,” Barrett concluded.

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