2019 Weston Winner: Sam Balto
Sam Balto is a Physical Education teacher and Safe Routes to School Champion at Cesar Chavez K-8 school in North Portland, Oregon. Growing up, Sam remembers walking to school with friends and taking the metro in Washington, DC. These experiences helped Sam build a sense of independence and to view streets as a place of learning. As a PE teacher Sam values how Safe Routes to School promotes physical activity for his students, and helps create a positive community at his school.
Before moving to Portland, Sam spent three years as a PE teacher and SRTS Champion at the David A. Ellis School in Roxbury, MA. While at the Ellis, Sam and the parents at his school worked hard to advocate for street safety improvements for their students. From confronting the Mayor of Boston to using Tom Brady’s face on crossing signs to get cars to slow down, all means were considered when it came to making the streets safer.
After relocating and calling Portland home Sam has continued to work for safer streets for his students. He has played an active role in creating safer access getting to and from Cesar Chavez K-8. From helping support parents and the Community Cycling Center in an America Walks grant that added and enhanced crosswalks and creative placemaking ideas to bring the community together to helping students and parents view walking and biking to school as viable and safe choices. Sam also has not been afraid to lend his voice in demanding safer streets for students and all Portlanders.
Sam continues to be an active force by using his camera and social media as a tool for safer streets for all road users. Sam has enjoyed advocating for pedestrian and cycling safety on both coasts and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be honoring Sam Balto for his tireless work to ensure students are able to get to and from school safely.