NAESP Congratulates our 2012 Green Ribbon Honorees

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award 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. []


Featured Honorees:


Susan Bachmann, Principal, Folger McKinsey Elementary School, Severna Park, MD
Learning by raising terrapins, eels and bay grasses

Folger McKinsey holds a Tasting of the Rainbow event each month, providing students with the opportunity to try new fresh fruits and vegetables.  Its outdoor courtyard features a butterfly garden, raised flower beds, a science lab, reading area, stage, "explora-torium" to dig and witness nature, and a water-feature emulating the sea-level fen uniquely characteristic of this region.  The accompanying curriculum plan encompasses science, language arts, music, art, and math.  Through annual environmental field trips and use of the schoolyard at all grade levels, along with a strong partnerships with a local outdoor education center, Folger students engage in active lessons, allowing them to make practical applications to the environment.  In addition to each grade level focusing on a specific issue, projects such as growing bay grasses and raising terrapins and eels make environmental literacy tangible and real at Folger.  Fifth grade students have scored between 92 and 95 percent proficient or advanced on state science assessments in recent years.  The school partners with Northrup Grumman and the Naval Academy for its STEM initiatives, including the school-wide annual environmental science fair.


Rebecca Robinson, Principal, Munford Elementary School, Munford, AL
The first school in the southeast modeled after a forest

Munford Elementary integrates forestry, conservation, and environmental education themes throughout the curriculum, with interactive exhibits to convey environmental elements.  The exhibits were sponsored through successful partnerships with the Alabama Forestry Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Services, U.S. Forest Service, Georgia Pacific, and other local organizations, which collectively donated over $275,000 for the museum-type displays.  These exhibits were correlated with state science, social studies, and math standards, and include themes such as trees, recycling, animal tracks, water quality, soil profiles, and careers in natural resources.  A $30,000 U.S. Forest Service Kids in the Woods grant added a 125-seat amphitheater to the school.  This structure, located on the nature trail, is frequently used for speakers, ceremonies, and workshops.  The school has received grants totaling over $23,000, awarded by Talladega Education Foundation, Legacy, Alabama Association for Curriculum Development, Rural Conservation and Development, and CBS One Classroom at a Time.  In the last three years, the 5th-grade students have scored 90 percent, 99 percent, and 97 percent on the Alabama science assessment.  In 2006, Munford began a partnership with 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC). As a 21st CCLC, it initiated annual Science Camps, a three-week summer enrichment program, which provides opportunities for students to be outside working in the butterfly garden and the greenhouse, planting tomatoes in raised beds, or taking extended environmental field trips.  Students participate in the Junior Master Gardener Program, an innovative 4-H youth gardening project. Students are able to carry healthy gardening experiences to their homes and communities.


Fred Barch, Principal, Pine Jog Elementary, West Palm Beach, FL
The first LEED Gold certified school in Florida

Since its inception in 2008, Pine Jog has been committed to becoming a world leader in developing a culture of sustainability for future generations.  This school, where 70 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, has won numerous awards for design, construction, and operations.  The school's staff has taken the green-school concept and continued to build upon sustainability concepts with a level of enthusiasm that is infectious.  Students make use of energy and water consumption information available on touch screens in various locations throughout the school.  The school is one of Florida’s most energy-efficient schools; Pine Jog has reduced energy use by 25 percent annually, which is enough to pay for one teacher’s salary each year. 140 acres of this campus, which is shared with Florida Atlantic University, are natural woodlands, featuring multiple outdoor classrooms and three miles of trails. 93 percent of this LEED Gold facility is built on 10 acres of land.  As part of the United Nation’s Billion Trees Campaign, Pine Jog students planted 1700 trees in 2011.  Students manage all aspects of a 4000-plant hydroponic garden, including its business plan.  The campus also houses nine themed gardens, including an urban peach orchard, pond, and beehive, as well as extensive nature trails.  Students created a YouTube Video detailing how water is collected in cisterns and reused to irrigate gardens.  They create artwork and musical instruments from items that would have gone to the landfill.  The school’s Reuse Center allows the community to drop off clothing, books, and classroom supplies that they don’t need, or find treasures to reuse.  The school principal drives a used, vegetable-oil fueled car, a diesel car, and a solar powered golf cart.  Students participate in the NASA Train Like an Astronaut Program, through which they experience rigorous outdoor physical activities that are linked to the curriculum.  All teachers are certified in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Federation's Project Wild Curriculum, and study Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods.


Ed Oshiro, Principal, Ewa Makai Middle School, Ewa Beach
Hawaii’s first green school

At this newly opened LEED Gold school, all cleaning products, furniture, and computers were purchased to green certification standards.  60 percent of school waste is composted, using worms and barrels to produce fertilizer which is used in the school garden.  Instead of golf carts, staff employ adult tricycles for deliveries and administrative purposes.  Courtyards and common areas are the site of collaborative, environmental, service, and project-based learning.  Science classes cover aquaponics, solar cells, solar cars, windmill generators, ecosystems, and robotics.  Paperless classrooms make wide use of iPads, PowerPoints, email, e-books, and laptops.  Students give tours of their new school, deepening their understanding of its green features and practicing public speaking.  Staff attend free, bi-weekly Zumba classes to stay fit.

New Jersey

Arlene Rogo, Principal, Midtown Community Elementary, Neptune, NJ
The largest public school in North America to achieve LEED Platinum

This Pre-K through fifth grade elementary school not only is the largest public school in North America to achieve LEED Platinum certification, but also is home to a diverse student population.  The school is truly integrated in its community with in-house spaces for an intergenerational tutoring center, a senior center, a parent resource center, and a police sub-station.  The school itself was constructed on a site that allows for a reduction in light pollution and heat island effect while managing storm water.  The school’s bioswales capture and filter the rainwater runoff from the parking area and other locations.  Geothermal wells, which make heat by using the Earth’s natural temperature to heat the schools, also are located in the front of the building.  All of these building features, along with the light shelves, which allow the sun’s rays to go under the sun shades and the solar panels mounted on the roof of the cafeteria, work to maintain a 60 percent reduction in energy usage.  Not only do the students study in this LEED Platinum building, but the building is used as a “living textbook” and an educational resource.  For example, since 90 percent of the school space has daylight and open views, students use solar cells, which work by turning the sun’s rays into electricity, to measure energy usage and determine the relationships between wattage and voltage in the science and math classes.  Additionally, the school has a rooftop garden and a native plant arboretum natural area that frequently are used as outdoor classrooms and educational spaces for staff and students.


Judy Lackey, Principal, Fishburn Elementary School, Roanoke, VA
Green Education Foundation, Project Learning Tree inspired curriculum

The mentality and commitment of Fishburn Elementary School is exemplified in their pledge: “No job is too big, no action too small, for the care of the earth, is the task of us all.” Fishburn fosters the creativity and growing minds of its students in all aspects of education. Creating incentives to promote healthy living and rewarding students who participate in community outreach projects are two ways Fishburn supports students in educational and lifestyle endeavors. Students also are supported in their creative endeavors through theatre and art projects. Every grade level has their own raised-bed garden, and students participate in an Earth Hour project each month, allowing them to take on the individual and group responsibility of their school’s environmental commitment. Even more unique than Fishburn’s collection of live animals in the main building is their grove of maple trees which, with the help of the Department of Forestry, provide maple syrup to the school. The school collects gently worn clothing and goods and holds an annual environmental fashion show and resale to showcase the items, raising money for its environmental activities fund. Students collect samples from nearby streams around World Water Monitoring Day, conducting tests and comparing data.  They also developed a purchasing protocol that eventually became the district standard.

West Virginia

Cynthia McCutcheon, Principal, Hilltop Elementary, Wheeling, WV
First LEED certified School in West Virginia

As the first LEED certified school in West Virginia, Hilltop Elementary takes its environmental and community responsibilities seriously. Through exploration and work with the Green Schools Leadership Institute, Hilltop has developed a project-based K-5 curriculum incorporating a LEED framework.  It created Sustainable Schools Learning Kits for other area schools through the use of a $54,000 grant from an anonymous donor to move toward its goal of helping all other schools become more sustainable.  Learning laboratories for sustainability allow students to learn in areas such as environmental footprint, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, water efficiency, and innovation and design. With a schoolwide community wellness walk in the evening and community service at every grade level, HIlltop fulfills their vision of being “the epicenter for sustainability” within its community.