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San Antonio Educator Receives Honor from EPA

Release Date: 12/04/2008
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Tressa Tillman at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(Dallas, Texas - December 4, 2008) Diane Rhodes, Asthma Educator for the Department of Safe and Healthy Schools within San Antonio’s North East Independent School District has been honored today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in recognition of her outstanding commitment to a healthy school environment.

EPA presented Ms. Rhodes with its National Special Achievement Award during the 9th Annual Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools National Symposium in Washington, D.C.

“EPA is honored to present this award to Ms. Rhodes for her efforts in ensuring students, teachers and staff have a healthy environment in which to learn and work,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “This award recognizes those individuals whose commitment for improved indoor air quality in schools has had a lasting impact on their school system.”

In 1995, EPA created the Tools for Schools program in response to studies highlighting the deteriorating conditions of the nation’s schools and the alarming rise in asthma cases, particularly among school and preschool age children. Asthma alone accounts for 13 million missed school days each year. Today, one out of every ten school-age children has asthma. Half of the nation’s schools are now implementing indoor air quality management programs, with 85 percent of those schools basing their efforts on the EPA’s Tools for Schools program.

Diane Rhodes said, “by systematically addressing the four components of asthma control within our school district we can achieve our goal to increase the quality of life for our 6,000 asthmatic children within NEISD. Asthma no longer has to be a disease that negatively affects attendance, performance, physical activity level, and social engagement of our children. By having the Tools for Schools program in place, the North East school district can provide an asthma/allergy friendly environment to all students as well as provide asthma management education to children, parents, staff, and the community.

As the leader of the NEISD Asthma Awareness Program, Diane Rhodes developed a framework to address the four components of asthma control: Awareness, Medication, Environment, and Education. Her efforts have lead to numerous districtwide policy changes and the creation of Asthma Blow Out events designed to provide an evening of asthma education to the community.

A special recognition ceremony and reception was held to honor recipients of the 2008 National Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools awards. To date, more than 200 schools and school districts nationwide have been recognized by EPA for their accomplishments in creating a healthy learning environment and maintaining healthy indoor air quality in their facilities.

More information about Tools for Schools is available at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/awards.html

More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/region6

EPA audio file is available at http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/audio.htm#audio120408_dianerhodes

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