This Is How We Change The World

By Hope Gribble, Membership
& Education Coordinator,
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

A defining moment in K-12 education occurred in April 2012. The first Green Ribbon Schools were honored by the U.S. Department of Education. This voluntary program is the first comprehensive green schools program by the federal government. It is modeled after the Blue Ribbon Schools Program which recognizes outstanding academic achievement.

The foundation of the Green Ribbon Schools Awards Program is built upon three pillars:

  • Reduced Environmental Impact and Costs,
  • Improved Health and Wellness, and
  • Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education.

Honorees lead the way in natural resource conservation, student and staff health and performance, and environmental literacy geared to prepare students for 21st century citizenship and employment. This positively impacts the quality of students’ lives, the wellbeing of the planet, and responsible stewardship of funds — which in the case of public schools are taxpayer sourced. After all, reduced energy and water use connects directly with reduced operating costs.

Pretty exciting, huh? So exciting that Glenn Cook, Editor in Chief of the American School Board Journal, stated, “The green schools movement is the biggest thing to happen to education since the introduction of technology to the classroom.” Wow!

I bet you’re longingly wondering the same thing I am. Why wasn’t this around when I went to school?! Luckily for our future generations, it’s here now! But with one caveat. As with Blue Ribbon Schools, schools do not apply to the U.S. Department of Education directly, but to state education departments. In order for a school to apply, the state the school resides within must opt to participate in the program.

Where does Missouri stand? Missouri participated in the awards program in its inaugural year, resulting in the national recognition of two schools: The College School and Crossroads College Prep. However, for the 2012-2013 school year, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has chosen not to participate. This makes Missouri one of only ten states who have not committed to participate in the second year of this landmark program. If you feel strongly that Missouri should participate, please contact DESE to let them know. There’s still time. Still time for Missouri to opt in. Still time to give area schools the opportunity to shine.

Speaking of shining, The College School, Crossroads College Prep, and the Academy for Global Citizenship, a Green Ribbon School located in south Chicago, will be doing just that on November 7th. Each of these schools will share a glimpse of their accomplishments at the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter’s 5th Annual Green Schools Event, Green Ribbon Schools: Celebrating Three Award Recipients. Come celebrate with them! The event is free and open to the public. It will take place at The College School in Webster Groves from 8:30 – 11:30am.RSVP online at www.usgbc-mogateway.org/events. Learn about a plethora of green strategies: local and organic school lunches, renewable energy, recycling and composting, schoolyard chickens, butterfly monitoring, ecological research, green roofs, and MUCH MORE!

As the Academy for Global Citizenship’s website states – front and center: This is how we change the world. Start changing.