ED to Announce 2016 Honorees on Earth Day April 22nd

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          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

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ED to Announce 2016 Honorees on Earth Day, April 22nd

Each year, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) asks state authorities to send their highest performing nominees (up to five PK-12 schools or districts and one postsecondary institution) in three areas that we call Pillars.  Pillar I is “Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs,” including waste, water, greenhouse gases, energy, and alternative transportation.  Pillar II is “Improving Health and Wellness,” including physical activity, nutrition, and environmental health.  Pillar III is “Teaching Effective Environmental Education, including STEM, civics, and green careers.  These handful of selectees help us to communicate promising practices and resources in our Green Strides newsletter, social media, and tour that all schools can employ.  The 2016 federal review and selection process is underway!  ED received a total of 79 nominations from 27 nominating authorities, including 25 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense Education Activity, with over half of them disadvantaged.  The nominees include 12 postsecondary institutions, 15 districts, and 52 schools.  Secretary of Education John King’s announcement of the 2016 honorees will be made available on the Department’s YouTube site at 2 p.m. ET on April 22, 2016. >>>>


See You at the 6th Annual Green Schools Conference & Expo!

The Green Schools Conference & Expo brings together educators, school administrators, business and community leaders, nonprofit partners, green building professionals, students, parents, and many others. The sixth annual conference and expo scheduled for March 31-April 1 in Pittsburgh.  >>>>


ED Opens Competition for Regional Educational Laboratories

The Department of Education opened the competition for the next generation of Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs).  Each of the 10 RELs conducts applied research; seeks out and widely disseminates findings from high-quality research; and provides training, coaching, and technical support for applying research to education improvement.  The next RELs are expected to begin their work in early 2017 and continue for a period of 60 months. >>>>

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Why You Can’t Afford Not to Keep Your School Facilities Clean

Check out another fantastic research-based blog from Dr. Linda Lemasters, Director of the Education Facilities Clearinghouse, on why you can’t afford not to keep your school facilities clean. >>>>


Meet More of the 2015 Honorees

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees are demonstrating innovative practices for others to follow:

Discovery Elementary School, Everett, Wash.

Discovery Elementary, a level 3 Washington Green School, decreased its trash output 62 percent, and increased recycling 25 percent and composting 66 percent.  During an energy audit, small personal refrigerators were removed from around the school.  Energy Monitor was added to the list of classroom roles.  The technology department provided flat-screen monitors and removed all tube-style monitors, also changing settings so the monitors automatically shut down.  The school replaced the boiler with a more energy-efficient model and placed new weather stripping around doors and windows.  The school now has guidelines for thermostat temperature settings as well as an automated HVAC system.  Discovery purchases products made from and packaged with recycled materials and staff members avoid plastic bags and items with excessive packaging.  Whenever possible, the community uses rechargeable batteries and both sides of paper.  The cafeteria has replaced disposable trays with durable ones.  Students participate in essay contests and write about their dreams to make their school, community, and the world a better place by protecting the environment.  Students participate in Earth Day and Green Apple Day of Service, school grounds trash pick-up, and know not to waste water.  Discovery formed a Verde Garden Team to organize a place where students and families could come together to experience the joy of gardening, including fruits and veggies, cedar worm bin, greenhouse, and herb garden.  Thanks to a variety of local partners, students visit a fish hatchery, wetlands, estuary, beach, lighthouse, nursery, and farm.  Fifth-grade students are enrolled in a fitness program which monitors and measures their physical activity.  Intermediate students are offered a bicycle safety workshop.  Staff members also challenge each other to log hundreds of miles on their personal bikes instead of driving to work, and participate in Bike to Work and School Month.  >>>>

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Fourth Graders get ready to work in the Discovery Elementary School garden during Earth Week.

Pine View School for the Gifted, Osprey, Fla.

In 2011, Pine View School for the Gifted partnered with the University of Central Florida Solar Energy Center to install a 10 kW solar array as part of the SunSmart E-Shelter Program. Over the subsequent three years, the solar array generated an estimated 50,000 kW/h.  Pine View earned EPA ENERGY STAR certification in 2012.  The school has saved thousands, and has helped the Sarasota School District save $16,000,000 in energy costs since 2007.  The school has diverted 43 percent of its solid waste from landfill through recycling and composting.  In the past two years, the E-Waste Tuesday program has helped divert 2,300 pounds of electronic waste from th e landfill.  In 2014, over 400 runners participated in the school’s first sponsored race. Pine View participates in the USDA’s HealthierUS Schools Challenge, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy School Program, and a farm to school program.  The gardens on campus include a tower garden where herbs and tomatoes are grown, and six raised garden beds that multiple classes use, and the high school sustainable gardening club’s organic garden and green roof project.  Outdoor learning opportunities include sustainable gardening, green roof work stations funded by Toyota, a Nature Trail, and a solar array.  At the elementary level, the foreign-language department studies marine vocabulary while singing songs from Finding Nemo.  At the middle-school level, the math department teaches lessons through the use of nature and photography.  In high school, students study sustainability in economics classes, put on a “Trashion Show” in their advanced placement (AP) Environmental Studies class, and volunteer for coastal clean-ups.  A unique band, called The Garbage Men Band, uses instruments made of repurposed materials to spread the word about recycling.  Students are encouraged to go into sustainability-related careers, attend sustainability conferences, and visit organizations like The Florida House Institute.  >>>>

Pine View Gifted
The Pine View Garbage Men Band offers a 2015 Earth Day performance using recycled materials instruments.

Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.

Auburn developed and adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2010, and identified a range of strategies to help curb emissions.  Since 2010, the university has designed and built over 36 percent of its new square footage to LEED certified standards.  The university has explored the application of alternative energy through the installation of a geothermal system at the athletic facility, as well as by erecting solar array projects.  Auburn has been designated a Tree Campus USA every year since 2009, and features cisterns, bioswales, rain gardens, dry stream beds, and pervious pavement.  The community celebrates No Impact Week annually.  One of the primary methods through which the university supports alternative transportation is the Tiger Transit bus program.  The university’s purchasing and use preference for certified green cleaning products helps reduce chemical exposure for building occupants.  The Academic Sustainability Programs focus on training students and faculty in the concepts and application of sustainability; expanding the incorporation of sustainability into the curriculum; fostering interdisciplinary sustainability research; and overseeing, advising, and administering the minor in Sustainability Studies.  Over 300 courses in 42 departments offer sustainability-related content.  Students have the opportunity to engage with a variety of sustainability topics with study abroad of Regional Sustainable Technologies in northern Spain, Climate Change and Environmental Management in Panama, or Watershed Services in Costa Rica.  >>>> 

Auburn Univ
Faculty members use the campus as a living laboratory to provide sustainability-focused, active learning opportunities beyond the classroom, such as touring the Donald E Davis Arboretum to learn about using green infrastructure to manage stormwater in a more sustainable manner.

Resources and Opportunities

Green Strides Design


The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Winter

The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes sessions that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  Consult the webinar calendar and submit suggestions of free webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov for listing.

Mar. 02, 2016, 12-12:30 pm  Ask the Expert (EPA)

Mar. 03, 2016, 2:00-2:45 pm  Food Safety (USDA)

Mar. 03, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Robotics on a Budget (NASA)

Mar. 07, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Calculator Robotics (NASA)

Mar. 08, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Technology Drives Exploration:  Spinoffs (NASA)

Mar. 09, 2016, 10-11:00 pm   The ABC’s of School Gardens (Healthy Schools Challenge)

Mar. 10, 2016 1:00-2:00 pm   Energy Star and Green Building Rating Systems (EPA)

Mar. 10, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Technology Demonstration Challenges (NASA)

Mar. 16, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Space Telescopes- Eyes in the Sky (NASA)

Mar. 17, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  How to Apply for the Energy Star (EPA)

Mar. 17, 2016, 2:00-2:45 pm  Promoting Your Farm to School Program (USDA)

Mar. 17, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Light but Strong:  A Lesson in Engineering (NASA)

Mar. 22, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Mar. 22, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Making Waves with NASA:  Optics Resources (NASA)

Mar. 23, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Mar. 24, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Mar. 30, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Tackling WaterSense - Outdoor Systems (EPA)

Mar. 31, 2016, 2:00-2:45 pm  School Gardening (USDA)


Apply to Participate in the Student Climate and Conservation Congress by Mar. 15

The Green Schools Alliance invites students who have demonstrated leadership in their communities to participate in the Student Climate & Conservation Congress.  Hosted at  the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center, students and educators selected to participate in the week-long Congress expand their understanding of environmental, social, and economic interconnections, and create year-long commitments to meet 21st century challenges. >>>>


Submit to the Young Reporters for the Environment Competition by March 16

This environmental journalism competition invites youth between the ages of 13-21 to report on topics related to the environment.  Participants submit an article, photo, or video to the competition for a chance to win prizes, plus national and international recognition.  >>>>


Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Deadlines Approach

These are the nation's highest honors for K-12 teachers of mathematics and science.  Since 1983, more than 4,400 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.  The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2016 and the deadline for applications is May 1, 2016. >>>>




March is National Nutrition Month and Includes School Breakfast Week

Find resources for schools and educators and celebrate National School Breakfast Week, March 7-11.  >>>>

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International School Meals Day is March 3

For the last three years, schools around the world have celebrated International School Meals Day.  Among the aims of International School Meals Day are to raise awareness of the importance of the nutritional quality of school meal programs worldwide; emphasize the connection between healthy eating, education, and better learning; connect children around the world to foster healthy eating habits and promote well-being in schools; share success stories of school meal programs around the globe; and raise awareness of the hunger and poverty issues being addressed through school feeding programs. >>>>


National Healthy Schools Day is April 9th

Since 2002, parents, teachers, school nurses, custodians, advocates, and agencies have promoted National Healthy Schools Day activities nationwide.  Whether you are at the beginning stages of investigating school environments or have an established Indoor Air/ Environmental Quality program, you are invited to host a local activity that educates others and celebrates your school’s successes.  National Healthy Schools Day is coordinated by Healthy Schools Network in partnership with many agencies and organizations. National Healthy Schools Day promotes the use of EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools guidance as well as other EPA environmental health guidelines and programs for schools and children’s health.  >>>>


Building Community Resilience Through Education Summit is April 6

Join educators and students focused on answering the question, “How can we build community resilience through education?” Summit activities will include a keynote address from climate activist Bill McKibben, a panel on community resilience and education, informational sessions, professional development workshops, a collaborative activity, field trips, and a participant forum. >>>>


Connect with Green Strides

Green Strides: Resources for School Facilities, Health, and Environment
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
Facebook: @EDGreenRibbonSchools
Twitter: @EDGreenRibbon
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