Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker of Hartford, Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School and Common Ground High School, both of New Haven, were honored in a special ceremony on March 14th at Mary Hooker for their nomination for the Federal Green Ribbon School Award for their contributions under Connecticut's Green LEAF Program.
The Green Ribbon Schools Recognition Award, according to the US Department of Education website, "honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, which incorporates STEM, civic skills and green career pathways. The recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education (ED) effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices that are proven to result in improved student engagement, higher academic achievement and graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government wide goal of increasing energy independence and economic security."
Each authority is invited to nominate schools that they assess to be the highest performing in their jurisdiction, based on the authorities' evaluation of schools achievement in the Pillars and Elements, which are:
I Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs
II Improved Health and Wellness
III Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education
However, any US school can become a Green Ribbon School-there are currently 793 schools enrolled in the program nationwide. The Green Ribbon Schools program website "is where health, education, STEM skills, technology and being green combine to propel entire schools towards a happier, healthier and smarter future. It is where students get more involved in school activities, not less, and where teachers and students become the true leaders of their schools and communities."
To receive the Award, however, opens up new federal resources for the schools awarded. In 2013, 89 schools from 31 states were nominated including the three from Connecticut. Winners will be announced on April 22, 2013. This is the first year that Connecticut has participated in the national Green Ribbon Award program. The Education Department Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) Factsheet says:
"ED-GRS has prompted unprecedented government efficiency. As a result of the award, state education agencies now collaborate with health and natural resource agencies to support schools. Likewise, among federal agencies, through the Green Strides Webinar Series and Speakers Bureau, ED-GRS is a platform to connect all schools with existing resources, programs and grants.
Connecticut's Green LEAF Program is a collaborative effort of the Connecticut Departments of Construction Services, Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Public Health, as well as many Connecticut environmental and educational organizations, the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program guides and recognizes schools for striving toward the three goals that are similar to the Federal Green Schools Elements and Pillars. Resources, Supports, Professional Development and Mentors are available for schools who want to get involved. All Connecticut public and private schools, grades K-12, are eligible to participate. Schools that show significant progress in the Green LEAF program can be nominated for the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Award program.
At this recognition event, two schools also signed a letter of commitment begin the process of receiving CT GreenLEAF recognition. These schools are: Two Rivers Magnet High School, Hartford and Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy in Windsor.
"We congratulate each school being recognized today for creating healthier, enriching, and more sustainable learning environments for their students," said Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor. "Green building standards and strategies create school environments which enhance students' learning experience and teach them the importance of building a sustainable future. Incorporating environmental and sustainable concepts into the curriculum has the potential to increase student engagement, especially in STEM fields."
Among the trends in the business community is a renewed effort toward developing sustainable resources, also known as "greening." Efforts such as these can introduce this concept to students early in their education, and they support their efforts to get involved in this trend, thereby making Connecticut graduates more valuable in a variety of rewarding careers.
Department of Public Health Press Release
Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker
Barnard Environmental Studies Interdistrict Magnet School, New Haven CT
Green Ribbon Schools Program
Connecticut Green LEAF Program
Ten World Changing Green Trends by Glenn Croston