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Chicago's Green Schools

During a beautiful, early fall week in September, I had an opportunity to visit some of the Chicago's greenest public schools:  Peterson Elementary School, Vaughn Occupational High School, Waters Arts Magnet School, and Curie Metropolitan High School.  This was also an occasion for me to return to my alma mater, Hinsdale Central High School. And I also had a chance to visit with three independent schools that are going green: The Latin School, The University of Chicago Lab Schools, and Morgan Park Academy. I was proud of the collective sustainability initiatives underway in my native land.  

 

1.  Chicago Public Schools: Green Schools for a Green City

Green Ribbon Schools at NAIS in Philadelphia

At the NAIS Annual Conference in February 2013, I will host a panel presentation to recognize the eleven member schools who were named by the U.S. Department of Education as Green Ribbon Schools.  Here are profiles of three of those schools: Catlin Gabel, OR; The College School, MO; and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, PA.

 

1. Catlin Gabel: A Sustainable Tradition

When I learned the news that Catlin Gabel School had been selected as one of the first recipients of the new national Green Ribbon School award this spring, I was delighted, and proud.  Since I lived in Portland and worked at Reed College in the 1970s, I have known Catlin Gabel to be one of our country’s finest, progressive K-12 independent schools.  Our family’s ties to the school are strong, too--my wife Helen, her mother, and a number of cousins, nephews, and extended family members are alums—so I was especially pleased to see Catlin Gabel recognized for its pioneering commitment to environmental sustainability.  How did it develop that tradition?

Greening America's Schools 2.0: Summer and Fall 2012

In preparation for the publication of Greening America's Schools 2.0 in Winter 2013, I continued the search for best practices across the country.  Here are profiles of five leading schools: 1. Waynflete School, ME; 2. Wilmington Friends School, DE; 3. Shipley School, PA; 4. Palmer Trinity School, FL; 5. Montgomery Bell Academy; TN.

 

1.  Waynflete School: Progressively Green

Founded over a century ago in a residential section of Portland, Maine, Waynflete School has grown to become a thriving, progressive Pre-K through 12 independent school for 560 students that has embraced environmental sustainability as part of its larger mission.  It has been my good fortune to know the school first-hand through the work of my friends, School Head Mark Segar and former Lower School Director Cinda Joyce.  Together they teamed up with the Waynflete community to make respect and responsibility for the environment a central element of the school’s culture.

Greening America’s Schools 2.0: Spring 2012

In my continuing journey to document success stories for Greening America’s Schools 2.0, here are four schools that represent the may varieties of schools seeking to become more sustainable: Overlake School, WA; Savannah Country Day School, CA; Montessori de Terra Linda, CA; and New Highland Academy, CA.

 

Overlake: A Green Ribbon School

 

In April 2012 The Overlake School, an independent school with 530 students in grades 5-12 in Redmond, Washington near Seattle, was named one of the country’s first Green Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, just one of 78 nationwide and one of eleven NAIS member schools.  How does one become recognized as a high-performance, environmentally sustainable school?  In the case of Overlake, inspired leadership, consistent hard work, and a systems focus on green facilities, operations and curriculum explain how the school rose to the top of the list.

Greening America’s Schools 2.0

In February 2012 NAIS published my book, Greening America’s Schools, which featured fifty case studies of schools at various stages of becoming more environmentally sustainable.  Encouraged by the response to the book, and my belief that telling the story of private and public schools across the country that are “growing greener” will add momentum to this important movement, I have continued the journey.  Here are four “virtual visits” I conducted with NAIS schools this year: Idyllwild Arts Academy, CA; North Country School, NY; Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, GA; and St. Gregory College Prep, AZ.  And more are on the way.

 

Idyllwild: The Art of Going Green

 

The Benefits of Green Schools: The Triple Bottom Line

In two recent talks at the NAIS Green Town Hall in February and at the California Independent Schools Business Officers Association meeting in May, I made the case that greening schools makes sense/cents.  It is increasingly clear that environmentally sustainable, high efficiency, high performance green schools offer a compelling “triple bottom line” that promises to save money, strengthen achievement, and improve health.   Many of NAIS member schools and public schools across the country are demonstrating tangible results from the green efforts.  This article tells some of their stories of success saving significant dollars and highlights these schools: Punahou School; Hawaii Preparatory Academy; Athenian School; Castilleja School; Cate School; Midland School; St. Gregory College Prep; Berkshire School; North Country School; Hotchkiss School; Riverdale School; Lawrenceville School.  See the PowerPoint on Triple Bottom Line on the Experience section of the website.

 

How Green is Boulder’s Valley?

What does it look like when an entire school district turns green?  To find out, I visited the Boulder, Colorado schools on a crisp winter day in February 2012 and discovered a district in the process of a remarkable transformation of its entire system of education and operations, in collaboration with the city and many non-profit partners.  From my meetings with everyone, from the Superintendent, Board members and the district Sustainability Coordinator to the students, teachers and staff in the schools, it was vividly clear that Boulder is a shining example of how schools can embrace the highest standards of environmental sustainability.

 

NAIS Schools Leading the Green Movement

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday announced the selection of 11 NAIS schools, among a group of 78 nation wide, to receive the first Green Ribbon Schools Award, a very impressive showing. 

The recipients demonstrate best practices to reduce environmental impact, promote health, and ensure a high-quality environmental and outdoor education program.  They were selected from an initial group of over 350 schools that submitted applications to their state education departments.  The NAIS schools named include: The Athenian School,
 Danville, California; Sidwell Friends Middle School,
 Washington, DC;  Savannah Country Day School,
 Savannah, Georgia;  Hawaii Preparatory Academy,
 Kamuela, Hawaii; The College School, St. Louis, Missouri; Crossroads College Preparatory School,
 St. Louis, Missouri;  The Willow School
, Gladstone, New Jersey; American Hebrew Academy,
 Greensboro, North Carolina;  Catlin Gable School,
 Portland, Oregon; Springside Chestnut Hill Academy,
 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and The Overlake School,
 Redmond, Washington. 

Greening America's Schools Published

Dear Friends,

I delighted to announce that my new book, Greening America’s Schools: The Environmental Sustainability Movement in K-12 Education, has been published by NAIS.  Since concluding my career as a school head, I have devoted my energies to “growing greener schools” to help address the significant environmental challenges we face, and I many will have interest in the work.

The book describes environmental sustainability in our schools through profiles of 50 private and public schools across the country that have gone green.  It shows how schools can partner with colleges, universities, science museums, and outdoor education programs to enhance their environmental education programs.  And students describe the profound, positive impact green schools can have on their education and their development as global citizen leaders. 

Hawaii’s Environmental Sustainability Movement

Emerald Islands, Ocean Blue:

Hawaii’s Environmental Sustainability Movement

 

Flying into Hawaii in January for a week of school visits, I was quickly reminded of why this state is in the vanguard of our nation’s environmental sustainability movement.  From the air, Hawaii’s islands appear as emeralds surrounded by fringe collars of white, dotting the vast blue ocean of the Mid-Pacific.  Hawaii is further from the continental landmass than anywhere on earth, and this distance and sense of isolation shapes a consciousness among Hawaiians that their fragile ecosystem is at risk, and that they must take urgent action to protect it.  The islands were first populated over 1500 years ago by wayfaring Polynesians who navigated thousands of miles in long, double-hulled ships, guided only by the sun, the moon, the stars and the currents, a heroic story that is being retold today by Nainoa Thompson, a graduate of the Punahou School.  As the ancient Hawaiian proverb says, “The island is the canoe, the canoe is the island.”

 

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