Over 40 Schools in 11 States Visited this Summer!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

ED Officials Conclude EB2L Facilities Best Practices Tour in Nation’s Capital

The ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practices Tour concluded on September 25th in Washington, D.C. with visits to Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School; Woodrow Wilson High School; and Sidwell Friends School.  Immediately preceding the Washington, D.C. tour, ED officials visited green schools on the West Coast the week of September 16. The tour included some 19 events in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Read a blog from the California Department of Education Facilities and Transportation Division describing the best practices of their honorees and how “across California, schools are using the resources they have to improve efficiency, ensure health and wellness, and deliver effective and inspiring environmental curriculum.”  California Department of Education officials note, “With the passage of California’s Proposition 39, that pool of resources is about to get bigger.” >>>  


Pictured above is the Washington Yu Ying's Eco Pond.

Then, Senior Policy Advisor Hal Plotkin writes about a key ingredient in Oregon and Washington schools – leadership. “Some leaders seem to have an ability to turn the most modest means and activities -- say, a patch of dirt in a parking lot, or the need to clean up after lunch -- into engaging, meaningful, stimulating learning opportunities.” he writes.  “It brought home a powerful reality: great leaders don’t wait for the right moment or say they can’t without trying.  It brought home a powerful reality: great leaders don’t wait for the right moment or say they can’t without trying.  Instead, they roll up their sleeves and do what they can, where they are, with what they have.”>>>


EB2L Tour Visits over 40 Schools in 11 States this Summer!

Announced at this year’s ED-Green Ribbon Schools ceremony by Secretary Duncan and Under Secretary Kanter, the tour set out to bring attention to schools across the country that exhibit best practices in school building and grounds design, construction, operations and management to support health, equity, educational outcomes, energy efficiency and cost savings, in addition to health and sustainability education.  “Educationally modern and rich environments are important for closing the achievement gap, as children from high poverty families need to make up for lack of opportunities in their communities during their time in school,” said Secretary Duncan.  Because the where students learn matters as much as the who and how, the Department visited ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees to highlight what schools and districts can do now to ensure that their learning facilities promote achievement, health, equity and cost savings.>>>

Beginning on July 10 and 11th, the EB2L Facilities Best Practices Tour visited AlabamaDeputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White blogged about how green schools are taking root in rural Alabama: “Teachers have engaged students in their own learning by connecting lessons to research and discovery in the mountains, forests and streams right outside their classroom windows. Facility improvements have saved millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of kilowatts of electrical power, and turned school buildings into tools for learning.” >>>


Then, the tour headed to New England, where Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist offered her thoughts on the work of a handful of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut honorees on the tour:  “Every one of these schools featured modern, educationally enhancing and resource-efficient use of indoor space, whether in new or lovingly restored historic facilities, extensive use of outdoor classrooms, such as edible gardens, as well as the effective use of the actual school building as a learning tool about green technologies and the complex interactions between humans and the environment.” >>>  


From the road in New York and New Jersey, Facilities Director of the New Jersey Department of Education Bernard Piaia, Jr. shared his ‘eureka moment’ on a ‘theory of beige’ for school facilities: “The dull, anonymous, beige school facility has become a relic of the past. The ED-GRS recognition has spotlighted a new type of school facility, one that serves as a critical teaching tool, uniquely designed and integrated into the educational programs offered by the school.  After decades of working on school facilities, my conclusion is that this integration of facility and instruction is truly the best way to deliver an ‘education built to last.’”>>>


In Wisconsin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Sue Swenson blogged about how sustainable schools and outdoor education can offer increased access for all students: “I believe the needs of students with disabilities will be met in new ways by schools seeking U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition. We will all benefit when communities have the courage to innovate, which is, of course, what these ED-GRS honorees are all about.” >>>

The visits included tours of green school buildings and grounds, conversations with students and teachers regarding environmental education, health, and sustainability, and discussions with key partners and energy management personnel.  While the 2013 ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practice Tour has concluded for this year, stay tuned for news of other senior ED officials’ visits to ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees.


In the News

NPS Director  Jarvis Announces New Teacher Website

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis announced a new National Park Service website that provides teachers with one-stop shopping for lesson plans, distance learning programs, professional development opportunities, and other educational resources from national parks throughout the country. Educators will now be able to easily find, use, and rate material relating to more than 125 subjects.>>>  And view this video on the essential nature of our nation’s parks for both teachers and students.>>>

ED Awards Nearly $1 Million to GWU to Support Educational Facilities Clearinghouse

The U.S. Department of Education announced on September 30th the first year grant award of $973,763 for George Washington University in Washington, D.C. to support the establishment and implementation of an Educational Facilities Clearinghouse.  The Clearinghouse will provide technical assistance, training and resources to public preschools, K-12 schools and higher education institutions on issues related to educational facility planning, design, financing, construction, improvement, operation, maintenance and safety.>>>

An Active Return to Schools in Arizona

Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Michael Yudin joined a crowd of more than 1,000 students, teachers, and parents in Marana, Arizona, on September 11, in an effort to bring healthy habits back to America’s schools through the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative. Michael Yudin spoke proudly as the crowd of students filled the gym with enthusiasm. “Active kids do better. It’s that simple,” Yudin stated. “You feel better about yourself, you can focus, and you can learn more.” >>>

Senator Harkin Calls on GAO for New Survey on Condition of America's Schools
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has formally requested that the GAO conduct a new survey to help identify the current conditions and needs around school facilities. >>>

Are Our School Buildings Harming Our Students?
“With back-to-school time in full swing, each school day, 55 million children and 7 million adults -- 20 percent of the total U.S. population and 98 percent of all children -- will spend their days inside school buildings,” writes Claire Barnett, Executive Director of Healthy Schools Network.  “As our children head back to the classroom, there are efforts to offer our children healthier foods and more exercise, along with asking for more rigorous testing.  Yet, despite our best efforts, we know that schools -- the very buildings they step into every day -- are working against them.>>>   In a second blog, the author writes about the effects of the federal shutdown on children’s environmental health, “EPA and the other agencies have been shut down and many practical, user-friendly EPA programs and grants to help schools prevent indoor air problems, problems in chemical management, and problems in mold prevention and remediation -- have been closed.>>>

Built in the USA – A Snapshot of Green Building Activity Across all 50 States

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) shares state-by-state facts and figures about the strength of the growing green building marketplace. >>>


Events and Opportunities

ED’s Green Strides Webinar Series continues with the tools to reduce schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement. Find more sessions for educators, facilities managers, and advocates weekly. 

Nov. 6, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Nature Play and Learning Schoolyards (NWF)

Nov. 13, 2013, 3-4 p.m. Nature Explore Classroom (Arbor Day Foundation and KAB)

Nov. 19, 2013, 3-4 p.m. Steps for Mold and Moisture Control (EPA)

Nov. 20, 2013, 7:30-9:00 p.m. ClimateChangeLIVE – Part 1 (USFS)

Dec. 4, 2013, 3-4 p.m. Waste in Place (KAB)

Dec. 11, 2013, 4-5 p.m.  Benefits of Participating in Archery (DOI)

Dec. 11, 2013, 7:30-9:00 p.m. ClimateChangeLIVE – Part 2 (USFS)

Also find more resources on the Green Strides Resources Page!

Fruit Tree Orchard Grants

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an award-winning international non-profit dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combating global warming, strengthening communities, and improving the surrounding air, soil, and water. FTPF programs strategically donate orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, at places such as community gardens, public schools, city/state parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations, international hunger relief sites, and animal sanctuaries. >>>

National Nuclear Science Week 2013

National Nuclear Science Week, a celebration to focus local, regional and national interest on all aspects of nuclear science, will be recognized for the fourth year on October 21-25, 2013. Observations of the week will include an array of week-long educational activities in South Carolina, mass field trips to the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in New Mexico, and much more. A Workforce Development Day will also take place, hosted at the Kroc Center in Augusta, GA, on Tuesday, October 22, where high school seniors and college students can interact with current nuclear professionals, view interesting exhibits and learn about career topics in the world of nuclear technology – from nuclear medicine to emerging energy technology. >>>

Solve For Tomorrow Contest

Are you interested in winning a share of $2,000,000 in technology and prizes for your school? This fall, Samsung is giving public schools nationwide the opportunity to discover the power of technology by participating in its annual Solve for Tomorrow contest.  Become eligible for the Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award, in which your school can win an additional $50,000 in Samsung technology.>>>

EPA Issues 2013/2014 Urban Waters Small Grants Requests for Proposals (RFP)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects to award up to $1.6 million in funding for projects taking place in 18 eligible geographic areas that protect and restore urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities. Schools and State Education Agencies with projects in these areas are eligible. Small grant awards under this competition will range in the amount of approximately $40,000 to $60,000 in federal funding. >>>

Call for Abstracts: National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program
The 2014 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program planners are inviting individuals to submit abstracts related to environmental justice. The overall conference theme is Enhancing Communities through Capacity Building and Technical Assistance.>>>

Eligibility for the 2014 ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Award

Public and private PK-12 schools and public school districts must be nominated by state departments of education.  Applications for states’ nominations are devised and disseminated by participating states.  Schools cannot apply directly to the U.S. Department of Education. State education agencies' participation is voluntary. Interested schools and districts may locate contact information for state education agency selection committee contacts, who nominate schools to the U.S. Department of Education here.  If a contact is not listed on the ED-GRS site, a school or district may locate the main number to a state department of education hereSchool nominations from state education agencies are due to ED-GRS by February 1, 2014.  State education agencies can obtain more information by emailing green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov.

Connect with ED-Green Ribbon Schools Online

Remember to connect with EDGreenRibbonSchools on Facebook and @EDGreen Ribbon on Twitter for up-to-date information and resources! You can also learn more from our website.