National School Boards Association Executive Director Anne L. Bryant helped honor a group of schools with environmentally friendly designs that have integrated student learning into the features of their buildings and environments.
A June 4 ceremony was the inaugural event for the U.S. Department of Education’s new “Green Ribbon” program, designed to recognize schools with facilities that have reduced environmental impact, improved the health of their students, and have coordinated effective environmental education. Some 78 schools received the award, some with newly constructed buildings and others which had undergone “green” renovations.
“Reading through each story of the winning schools I see hope, light, and a focus on real 21st century learning,” Bryant said. “These schools used the physical structures, whether gardens, forests or solar energized school buildings, to teach STEM and analytical thinking, project based learning, problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork. 21st Century learning reinforces communication skills, creativity, and collaboration.”
Bryant pointed to examples of winners, such as Longfellow Elementary School in Long Beach, Calif. The school won a 2011 Energy Star award with a perfect score of 100, partners with a local middle school to share best practices, gives each teacher professional development in environmental sustainability, conducts all physical education classes outside and hosts a “Walk to School Wednesday” to engage not only students but community members.
Bryant was also particularly impressed with Terra Environmental Institute in Miami, a science-focused magnet high school that focuses on engineering, medical, and biological science courses to promote learning and conservation techniques.
For more details about this year’s winning schools and the Education Department’s Green Ribbon program, go to: