From the Executive Directo r: Changing Mindsets, Transforming Education: Leadership through a Lens of Sustainability

School leaders face many demands, from tight budgets and meeting standards to providing learning environments that are equitable and encourage academic achievement. The solutions that leaders turned to in the past to solve these challenges don't necessary apply in today's global environment. It's critical that schools and school districts adopt a leadership paradigm that recognizes and supports our increasing awareness of the sustainability challenges faced now and in the future. What we need is a shift in mindset.
Of course, change cannot happen without strong leadership and a clear, inspiring vision. Green school leaders are rising to the occasion by adopting a sustainability mindset and engaging with the world beyond the classroom walls. They understand the importance of creating vibrant, sustainable school cultures that equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and as citizens in a global community. That's why they are taking steps to reform their entire school ecosystems, from operations and infrastructure to organizational, financial, and social systems.
In this issue of GreenNotes, you will meet just a few of the school and district leaders who are making the shift and tackling everyday demands through a lens of sustainability. Josh Douds of  Centreville Elementary School talks about some of the challenges and lessons learned he's encountered as a green school leader, and the steps he and his school are taking to restart their journey toward educating for sustainability. Oak Park Unified School District's (OPUSD) Jay Greenlinger describes lessons learned and knowledge gained during the district's Sustainability Leadership Summit this past January, the kick-off event for OPUSD's participation in our Catalyst Schools and Districts program. Finally, GSNN's Director of Innovative Learning David DenHartog provides a brief introduction to a new online course, set to be released this spring, that will equip K-12 school leaders with the tools, resources, and inspiration they need to implement green, healthy, and sustainable practices at their schools and districts.
Change is hard. Changing mindsets is even harder and in education, it can feel downright impossible. The leaders highlighted in this newsletter are learning it's not just about continuous improvement, but continuous innovation and change leadership. GSNN is here to support them, and you, all along the way.
Feature Articles
A School's Journey Along the Road to Educating for Sustainability

Josh Douds, Principal of Centreville Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, gives an overview of his school's sustainability initiatives, some of the challenges and lessons learned he has encountered as a green school leader, and the steps he and his school are taking to restart their journey toward educating for sustainability. 
New Online Course to Help K-12 School Leaders Build Road Map for Sustainability

David DenHartog, Green Schools National Network Director of Innovative Learning, previews a soon-to-be-released online course for K-12 school leaders that will equip them with the tools, resources, and inspiration they need to implement green, healthy, and sustainable practices at their schools and districts. 
Leading the Way Toward a Student-Centered Culture of Sustainability

Jay Greenlinger, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Oak Park Unified School District (OPUSD), describes lessons learned and knowledge gained during the district's Sustainability Leadership Summit, the kick-off event for OPUSD's participation in Green Schools National Network's Catalyst Schools and Districts program. 
Fostering Leadership for Sustainability

Ten basic principles for getting students aged 11-18 engaged and active in bringing about change for a more sustainable future. Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine and originally authored by Patricia Armstrong.
GSNN Educator's Toolbox: Professional Development, Resources, Grants, and Awards for February

The latest professional development opportunities, resources, grants, and awards for February.  
In Other News...
Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly

Teaching climate change education helps students to develop the skills needed to mitigate, adapt, and innovate in a changing climate. The Winter 2018 Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly explores the evolution of climate literacy and the importance of teaching high-quality climate science. You will also learn how climate change education is moving beyond the science classroom, informing instruction across all K-12 subject areas and inspiring green careers.

Carry the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly wherever you go! Get  the app from  iTunesGoogle Play, or Amazon  today.  


Green Schools National Network's blog shares timely stories and news from Catalyst Network Schools and School Districts, Network sponsors and partners, and others involved in advocating for green, healthy, and sustainable schools. Check out some of our most recent blog posts below!

Oak Park Unified School District holds sustainability summit to plan district's environmental future
Write for GreenNotes
Green Schools National Network's newsletter, GreenNotes, focuses on one overarching topic each month. We will consider articles for the month that best matches the topic. Have a question about an upcoming theme? Contact .
We are looking for a variety of articles for GreenNotes, including:
  • Case studies of schools and school districts doing exemplary work in environmental and sustainability initiatives.
  • Profiles of leaders and advocates in the green schools movement.
  • News and current events of interest to the green schools movement.
Themes for the next three issues include:

The Arts and Sustainability Literacy - April 2019
Submission deadline: April 5, 2019

Visual and performing arts have played an important role in cultural and creative expression for thousands of years. In today's K-12 schools, the arts build school culture and student character by emphasizing authentic performance, craftsmanship, risk-taking, creativity, and a quest for beauty and meaning. Sustainable art and "green art classrooms" go beyond procuring environmentally-friendly art supplies to embracing the arts as a way to advocate for environmental and social equity. This issue of GreenNotes explores how schools and school districts are using the arts to teach students to be better stewards of the environment and their communities.

Innovation for the 22nd Century - May 2019
Submission deadline: May 3, 2019

The 21st century's innovation economy requires today's students to develop the skills and capabilities they need to be creative problem solvers who will shape the 22nd century. Schools that embrace sustainability as the driver of innovation are placing students in the driver's seat, giving them opportunities to solve complex, real-world problems and create products for real audiences. This issue of GreenNotes introduces you to some of these exemplary schools and school districts and the innovations their students are creating for a sustainable future.

Fostering Literacy in Green Schools: Decoding and Encoding Our World - July 2019
Submission deadline: July 5, 2019

The word "literacy" is bandied about a lot these days and in many different contexts. Students who are preparing to enter the 21st century workforce will need to master a wide range of "literacies" - science, mathematics, information, financial, environmental, and sustainability - beyond reading and writing. This begs the question, "What does literacy mean?" This issue of GreenNotes looks to answer that question by highlighting schools and school districts that are decoding and encoding the many faces of literacy and equipping students with the skills they need to be literate in the 21st and 22nd centuries.
Work with Green Schools National Network
Green Schools National Network's professional development and coaching services are designed to help schools and school districts adopt sustainability practices that align with their strategic goals. Our work is guided by the GreenPrintâ„¢ for Green, Healthy, and Sustainable Schools and its five core principles: curriculum, stewardship, facilities and operations, health and well-being, and leadership. Along with our professional development collaborative partners, we are positioned to help schools and school districts adopt a culture of sustainability that permeates every aspect of education: planning, policy development, program implementation, finances, curricula, teaching, learning, assessment, and administration.

Read on to learn how GSNN is supporting the Biomimicry Institute in developing their Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge!

The Biomimicry Institute is proud to be working with GSNN to grow our programs for youth. This fall, the Institute took advantage of GSNN's expertise in project-based learning to inform the development of our newest youth education program, the Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge (YDC), first piloted in early 2018. The YDC is an interdisciplinary learning experience and team design competition for middle and high school. The program introduces students to bio-inspired design as they take on the role of innovators to research and design a solution to a social or environmental problem related to climate change. In doing so, students practice STEM and 21st-century skills while gaining new perspectives on potential career pathways and the value of nature as a model for sustainable solutions.

Based on recommendations received from GSNN, we are developing new resources to improve educators' ability to build robust, interdisciplinary, and standards-aligned YDC units for their classrooms. We are also in discussion with GSNN about ways to work with their Catalyst Schools and Districts to refine the program and bring biomimicry to more students and teachers nationwide. 

To learn more about the YDC, or to join this year's challenge (deadline March 1), please visit:

Ready to get started?

Contact for more information on the range of professional services that Green Schools National Network has to offer schools and school districts.

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