From the Executive Directo r: 
Where We Learn Matters: A Culture of Sustainability is a Hallmark of a Green, Healthy, Sustainable School
When we think about the components of a green, healthy, and sustainable school, chances are the first things that come to mind may include green buildings, outdoor learning, zero-energy, and waste reduction. All of these are tangible, or somewhat tangible, examples of a green school "in action." But what about the components that are not immediately visible yet are evidenced through the actions of teachers, staff, and students? Things like compassion and empathy, leadership, and teamwork. A feeling of safety and belonging. These are the building blocks of a positive school culture, and a culture of sustainability.
A school's culture infuses all aspects of its daily operations and ultimately reflects its organizational health. It is embedded in a school's vision, mission, and core values. It drives short- and long-term decision making. And, it influences the behaviors and attitudes of everyone it touches. You may not be able to see it, but you can definitely gain a sense of a school's culture, positive or negative, when you walk in the door.
Creating a culture of sustainability takes the idea of fostering a positive school culture one step further by incorporating the principles of sustainability into a school's organizational culture. This starts by defining a shared vision that embraces not only student achievement, but preparing students to be active citizens and co-creators of a sustainable future. It requires buy-in from everyone, top-down and bottom-up: school leaders, teachers, facilities managers and staff, and most all, students. Done correctly, adopting a culture of sustainability has the potential to transform whole schools, not to mention their communities and the planet.
This issue of GreenNotes shares how five schools, districts, and organizations have taken adopting a culture of sustainability to heart. You will read how High Marq Environmental Charter School uses community building activities to promote a positive school culture; how Common Ground High School seniors were shaped into leaders as a result of their experiences at the nation's oldest environmentally themed charter high school; how Pittsburgh Urban Christian School uses "integral education" to teach students they are part of a larger global community; how Encinitas Union School District has experienced systems and behavior changes by prioritizing student involvement; and why the Green & Healthy Schools Academy launched their School Sustainability Culture Program.
In business, creating an optimal culture drives the bottom line. Why should this sentiment be any different for our K-12 schools? To create the next generation of sustainability leaders, we must model the values, norms, and practices that will ensure a healthy, sustainable tomorrow. Our future depends on it.
See you in 2018!

Sustaining a School Culture (of Sustainability)

Skylar L. Primm, Advisor/Lead Teacher at High Marq Environmental Charter School in Montello, Wisconsin, describes how community building activities, from a beginning of the year "Boot Camp" to mentor/mentee relationships, promote and reinforce a healthy school culture. 
"Leadership to Me Can Mean a Lot of Things" - Seniors Reflect on Four Years of Growth and Sustainable Change

Joel Tolman, Director of Impact and Engagement at Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center, shares student insights on leadership and growth from the senior class of 2017, all shaped by Common Ground's unique school culture.  
Sustainability is About How We Treat Each Other: School Culture that Prepares 21st Century Citizens

Andrew Ellsworth, Vice President of Health & Learning, Green Building Alliance , describes how school culture is a driving force at Pittsburgh Urban Christian School and how the Green & Healthy Schools Academy is helping K-12 educators aspire to a culture of sustainability. 
Growing a New Generation of Environmental Stewards

Timothy B. Baird, Superintendent of the Encinitas Union School District in California, discusses how student involvement in district-wide environmental stewardship efforts has led to both system and behavior changes across all school sites. 

The potential of peer leadership to engage teens in sustainability issues. Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine and originally authored by Alan Warner. 
GSNN Educator's Toolbox: Professional Development, Resources, Grants, and Awards for November

The latest news on professional development, resources, grants, and awards for November.  
Read the Fall 2017 Catalyst Quarterly!

The Fall Edition of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly explores the future of the green schools movement. Feature articles cover lessons learned and current trends driving the movement, prioritizing citizenship in the classroom, growing momentum in early childhood nature education, and the future of school food

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

W rite 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:

Going Green to Save Green -- February 2018
Submission deadline: February 2, 2018
Adopting a sustainability mindset is not just about zero waste and eco-literacy, but extends to how schools procure goods and services. Investing in sustainable products and services can help schools create healthier learning environments by removing toxic chemicals and reducing consumption of resources. This issue of GreenNotes profiles schools and school districts that are using sustainable purchasing. We will highlight lessons learned and best practices you can adopt to make smarter, greener purchasing decisions at your school. You may even save some green too!

Water Quality -- April 2018
Submission deadline: March 30, 2018
Water is essential for life, yet too often we take for granted our ability to access to clean, safe water. The Flint water crisis was a somber reminder and sparked renewed urgency in testing for lead in drinking water. Just as important is the role water plays in watershed health and sustaining the ecosystems we depend on for our survival. This issue of GreenNotes explores how schools are tackling issues surrounding water quality, from addressing contaminants in drinking water to examining the role schools play in managing runoff and water quality in their communities. We will also look at some of the innovative ways in which educators are engaging their students in lessons on water quality and watershed health. 

Green Schools and the Community -- May 2018
Submission deadline: April 27, 2018
Schools are widely recognized as centers of their communities, places where people gather to learn, celebrate, and take shelter in times of crisis. More and more, schools are adopting the mantle of climate resiliency, preparing students for the social, environmental, and economic challenges of the 21st century. In this issue of GreenNotes, you will meet some of the schools and school districts who are on the leading edge of this movement, and learn how their leadership and curriculum are having an impact on their communities.

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