From the Executive Directo r: Stronger Roots, Lasting Connections: Community Partnerships Inspire the Next Generation of Engaged Citizens

What makes a community? The dictionary defines "community" as a group of people who share common interests and/or live in the same place. Our schools are communities - each day, adults and children alike gather in the same place to teach and learn from each other. Yet, we often take for granted that school communities are embedded in much larger communities - neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states, regions, countries, the world itself! And just as schools provide students with opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive, so too do these larger communities that we interact with each day.
It's no wonder that place-based learning has found a home in the green schools movement. Schools and school districts that embrace place-based education understand that most relevant, authentic learning happens when students are engaged in their communities solving real-world problems, addressing prejudice and racism, and thinking about the future they want to live in. Teachers and school leaders who support place-based learning need to be commended for thinking of education as more than just conveying a set of facts. It's really a process that, when all is said and done, encourages students to be active and engaged citizens.
In the Fall 2018 issue of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, we explored how schools play a role in creating sustainable, healthy, and resilient communities. This issue of GreenNotes builds on and complements the stories in that issue by taking a broader look at school-community partnerships and highlighting some exciting projects that are happening across the country. You will hear how Boise High School and Prairie Crossing Charter School are using gardens as a way to connect their students with their communities through urban agriculture, place-based learning, and lessons in diversity and inclusion. You will learn how Mulberry School uses service-learning to protect their local watershed and foster compassionate global citizens. Finally, a parent volunteer and student from the Marin School of Environmental Leadership share how project-based learning and community-driven projects are helping the student body to develop leadership and 21st century skills.
We talk a lot about "thinking global, acting local" in the green schools movement. Community-based projects are the living embodiment of this sentiment, building curious learners and creating responsible citizens for the future. I hope these stories inspire you to connect with and learn from partners in your local communities.
Feature Articles
Marin School Environmental Leadership - Shaping Tomorrow's Environmental Leaders

Michelle Laurie and Ally Teper share how Marin School of Environmental Leadership prepares students for college and careers by engaging in project-based learning, working in the community to address real-world issues, and developing leadership and 21st century skills.
Room to Root: At Boise High School, A Nearby Vacant Block Has Sprouted a Project-Based Learning Movement

Alison Ward of Boise High School describes how the Boise community came together to develop Boise High School's Downtown Teaching Farm, a space that is teaching valuable lessons in urban agriculture, community unity, and project-based learning
The Roots of Inclusion at Prairie Crossing

Melissa Plucinski and Robb Freeman of Prairie Crossing Charter School discuss the development of their school's Inclusion Garden, an outdoor space dedicated to learning and celebrating the diversity of the school and its community. 
21st Century Learning with a Focus on Place-Based Service-Learning at Mulberry School

Jane Murphy, M.A., Assistant Head of Mulberry School, shares how her school uses a place-based service-learning approach to engage students with their community. This article looks at how this approach is applied to the study of watersheds, water quality, and fostering compassionate global citizens. 
School Food Gardens in Multicultural Inner-city Settings

A model for maintaining gardening programs year round through school-community partnerships. Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine and originally authored by Sunday Harrison. 
GSNN Educator's Toolbox: Professional Development, Resources, Grants, and Awards for January

The latest professional development opportunities, resources, grants, and awards for January.  
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!

GSNN Educator's Toolbox Winter 2018 Catalyst Edition: Professional Development, Resources, Grants, and Awards for December
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:

Leadership in Green Schools - February 2019
Submission deadline: February 1, 2019

School leaders face many demands, from tight budgets and meeting standards to providing learning environments that are equitable and encourage academic achievement. Green school leaders are tackling these demands using a sustainability mindset; a clear, inspiring vision; and a desire to engage with the world beyond the classroom walls. In this issue of GreenNotes, you will meet some of the leaders who are creating vibrant 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.

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.
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 helping Centreville Elementary School in Virginia take the next step in their journey to more fully integrate sustainability into everything they do.

Centreville Elementary School (CES) has focused on sustainability and environmental education for 12 years. During that time, we have made many beneficial changes such as restructuring our outdoor spaces to include three outdoor classrooms that are based on Virginia Standards of Learning, introducing a farmer's market, hiring a STEAM/Outdoor Education specialist, offering in-services for staff, and more. The driving force behind partnering with GSNN is to propel CES to the next level with our sustainability and environmental education.

Our kick-off meeting with GSNN's Jenny Seydel was amazing. She started by just listening...we discussed what we want to happen, where we want to be in five years, and what benefits we see. She had us write them down and group them, bringing us to the realization that we need to change some key factors in our thinking to get where we want to be. Next, she helped us establish goals for our school that would integrate sustainability and environmental education in what we are currently doing.

As we move forward, we are planning even more positive and exciting events for our students, staff, and families. CES will be hosting an all-day staff training with Jenny in February. We are also looking forward to implementing grade level family field trips.

The level of understanding, knowledge, and vision that Jenny shared was paramount to our understanding where our next step in sustainability lies. She helped us to see that our vision needs to change, how to refocus, and how to get our school working toward the next level of sustainability and environmental education.

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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