Imago Dei Middle School

Plant a Seed and Watch it Grow...and Grow, and Grow....

Imago Dei Middle School

Our goal

My goal as an educator is to ensure that all children are included in the conversation and movement towards a sustainable future via sustainability education, with the hope that they will grow to become advocates for themselves and their communities, and develop love and repect for nature and humankind. I strive to do this through project-based learning and a classroom methodology that promotes stewardship of our environment, our resources, and each other. Please see my classroom blog at for more information and current projects.

How we are doing it

Imago Dei Middle School is a tuition free private school, operating on donations and grants, serving children from economically disadvantaged families in the belief that a quality education is the right of all people.
A love of art and design and commitment to sustainability education lead me to facilitate a green architectural design project. We worked for 8 months, corresponded with schools around the globe, to design a school that would elevate the entire community by designing a facility that would not only educate middle schoolers but promote sustainable education, economics, and community to the entire neighborhood. As a bonus, we took our project to competition and won on both the state and regional levels, going on to win the national title in Wash DC. Now a committee of architects and other interested parties have come together to secure resources to build the school that the students have designed.
The momentum that began with the School of the Future Design Competition has led us to take on projects with Roots and Shoots, Tucson Green and Beautiful, all the while working through the curriculum I am developing ( I call it my Eco-Art Curriculum), currently addressing issues in extinction and water rights through a series of visual projects based on creative collaborative work and visual inquiry. My goal is to use upwards of 85% re-used, re-cycled, non-toxic materials in the eco-art classroom, and to create beautiful results that educate the viewers. The majority of projects are student initiated , with myself facilitating and developing fluency with the non-traditional materials.

What we are learning

Our learning continues everyday. We are constantly defining and redefining sustainability, for a start. We are learning about new ways to use materials, exploring design and the visual representation of information. We are learning about building community, and the human rights involved in fair housing, safe and affordable food, and inclusivity. But I think I learn the most, because I can draw from the experiences of my students, and incorporate their fresh ideas into my work as a teacher and as an artist. Our obstacles spring from the dysfunction of society in terms of the marginalization of under-served communities, but our endeavor is to eradicate that in whatever small way we can. But really, considering that my students didn't have an idea of what an architect was or why a sustainably future might be important, the fact that the conversation is so alive and that people have gathered around us to realize their design is pretty wonderful. It is a testament to the power of creativity and the transformative experience creative work can bring.

School Information

School: Imago Dei Middle School
Grade level: 6-8
Number of students in your project: the entire school participates (we are a 5-8 grade middle school)
Subjects: Art English/Language Arts Math Science Social Science Other (please specify in box below)
Other subjects: environmental/sustainability studies
Number of students in your school: 50
Project initiator: Linda Cato

Contact Information

Linda Cato, Visual Arts Specialist
639 N. 6th Ave  Tucson,  AZ  85718

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