The schools featured here have made strong efforts to integrate sustainability content and skills into the curriculum.
White Mountain School
Contact: Renee Blacken, Science and World Languages Faculty, firstname.lastname@example.org
At WMS students learn that economy, ecology, social equity and personal well-being are integral parts of global sustainability. The Sustainability Studies program helps students build an understanding of these interrelated parts by offering an array of courses as well as opportunities beyond the classroom walls. All students are required to take at least one semester course in Sustainability Studies. Sustainability content and skills are also infused throughout the academic curriculum, including Biology, World History II, American Literature as well as a variety of electives. The school runs week-long field courses twice a year that often have a sustainability focus. In the recent past courses have included Forest for the Trees: Conservation, Preservation & Recreation; Linking Local and Global Sustainability at Cite Ecologique in Colebrook, NH; and Canoeing the Connecticut Watershed. The school also partners with The Batey Foundation in the Dominican Republic and Compas de Nicaragua (in Nicaragua), and send students to these countries on Field Courses focused on social sustainability.
Marin Country Day School
Corte Madera, CA
Contact: Liz Zavattero, 3rd & 6th Grade Science & Sustainability Coordinator, email@example.com
MCDS seeks to instill and nurture in students a sense of stewardship for the environment, grounded in a foundation of science and ecology, and to develop an understanding of complex environmental issues to enable participation in solving problems. The first grade social studies curriculum focuses on an in-depth study of the individual and his/her role in a community. In this study, children build an understanding of the self and one’s relationship to the community. Fourth graders explore native and non-native plants of Ring Mountain, an open space preserve behind the MCWC campus. Students take a deep dive into learning about food systems while pursuing an answer to the overarching question, “What makes a sustainable food system possible?” The MCDS food system is closely examined, as well as the local food system in Marin County. Students visit local farms, as well as local agencies that aim to provide healthy food for those who could not otherwise source it on their own.
The Evergreen School
Contact: Janet Charnley, Sustainability Coordinator/Science Coach, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a part of the school’s mission and core values and philosophy, the faculty at Evergreen is dedicated to teaching global and 21st-century skills in many areas of the curriculum and across grade levels. Integrated, project-based lessons are developed with environmental sustainability themes. In the primary grades, environmental sustainability topics are integrated across content areas and students learn about human-built and natural communities, plant and animal habitats, human impacts on local environments, food and nutrition, and interrelationships in ecosystems. In intermediate level science classes, students are introduced to electrical circuits by using solar electric cells, and wind energy and engineering when designing and building wind mills. Fifth grade students learn about the greenhouse effect, climate change, solar energy transfer and passive solar house design in science. In a year-long interdisciplinary course on environmental sustainability and food systems, fourth and fifth grade students learn the central issues of sustainability with a focus on natural resource conservation, ecological footprint, food production, natural and human-built environments, and civic responsibility. As part of a science unit on Ecosystems and Human Impact, seventh grade students conduct field investigations on the Elwha River in the Olympic National Park and complete a project on the restoration of the river and its impact on the human and natural communities.
The Town School
New York, NY
Contact: Kenneth Higgins, Dean of the Upper School, Sustainability Coordinator, Music Department Chair, email@example.com
Town’s Sustainability Mission Statement reads: “Educating for sustainability is teaching children to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. We must recognize that all living things and natural systems are interdependent, and in turn, put this understanding to use in our lives, our communities, and the world in which we live….” Looking at the school motto “SOS” (Self, Others, Surroundings) through the lens of sustainability, students are introduced to the interconnections of multiple systems, paying particular attention to issues of social justice, economics, and the environment to teach them to become responsible global citizens. Fifth grade students begin to look at how individual behavior impacts global sustainability by measuring their carbon footprints and discussing why we make the lifestyle choices we make. Sixth grade students explore the global waste stream and seventh grade students discuss the industrial food system, considering the systems that are in place and who they serve. Eighth grade students analyze a particular global event and discuss how it relates to sustainability. All students consider how an individual goes about impacting change for a better future.
Hawaii Preparatory Academy
Contact: Bill Wiecking, Director, HPA Energy Lab, firstname.lastname@example.org
HPA aspires to be the preeminent K-12 model for environmental sustainability – a goal to which the school expressly committed in its strategic plan. To achieve this goal, HPA is focused on school wide eco-consciousness and forward-thinking policies and projects, including a zero-waste initiative at the Lower School campus, an ongoing student-led energy audit of both campuses, expanding energy reliance on photovoltaic systems, a thriving Lower School garden and outdoor kitchen, and the important learning that is happening in their Outdoor Classroom and Terrace Farm at the Upper Campus. K-8 students have garden classes, which transition in 9-12 into courses on agronomy, environmental science (regular and AP) and energy. Their most ambitious self-driven projects are often part of their Independent Science Research courses, where students create a project and exemplify autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose. Students in these classes have developed accurate energy audits of the campus, with real time access to data for both production and consumption, monitoring systems for off-site waste (recycled and otherwise) and outreach into the community using the energy telemetry and monitoring systems at the school’s energy lab. About 25% of the school’s 300 US students choose sustainability related classes. All students get exposure to sustainability concepts through their service learning projects.