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Actor Ed Begley to open teachers environmental training session
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Hollywood actor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. is one of the big names who are expected to show up at American Modular Systems in Manteca Thursday, Dec. 16, when the first 30 teachers of Manteca Unified will receive training for the groundbreaking first-in-the-nation environmental curriculum that is being launched by the district this month.

Manteca Unified is the first district in the state to implement the new Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum, with the training of the first 30 teachers as the opening salvo for this environmental education program. The district plans to implement this course of study initially to students from second to sixth grade as well as to high school freshmen in their earth science subject. Victoria Brunn, the school district’s energy education specialist, said the EEI curriculum was selected because it “looks at environmental issues from a global perspective.”

In addition to the award-winning actor, Jack O’Connell who is the California Department of Education’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and other dignitaries are expected to show up at the training event, said American Modular Systems spokeswoman Maggie Hartley. With the 30 teachers, special guests and members of the news media, Hartley said she expects the Gen7 Green Learning Center to be standing room only during part of the afternoon event. The teacher’s training session will take place from 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. with Begley delivering the opening talk.

It’s not simply by chance that American Modular System’s Gen 7 Green Learning Center was selected as the teachers’ training site. The Gen7 building is being touted by the company as a “high-quality, energy-efficient, eco-friendly” classroom designed to help “communities create healthy, sustainable learning environments that will benefit students.” A group of 40 students from Manteca Unified already had first-hand learning experience of this eco-friendly classroom during a field trip in October as part of the district’s environmental stewardship program.

Hartley said the 960-square-foot Gen7 prototype on display at American Modular’s headquarters on Spreckels Road was the culmination of three years of research and development done by the Manteca-based manufacturer of school portables. The company, which is one of the largest modular manufacturers in the West, also builds commercial facilities. In addition to its headquarters on Spreckels Avenue, it also has a 10-acre facility on South Main Street in Manteca.

American Modular Systems co-founder Tony Sarich has been described by school officials as a ‘strong advocate for environmental education.” In a statement to the news media, Sarich commented, “We are excited to host the launch of EEI and are committed to assisting the district with the implementation of this innovative curriculum. While our company is transforming the way classrooms are built, we are committed to taking a leadership role in the community to encourage environmental stewardship.”

American Modular Systems’ headquarters where Gen7 is located is at 787 Spreckels Avenue between Yosemite Avenue and Woodward Boulevard.