"Green Council & Passionate Students: A Powerful Mix"
Redwood Day School
School Contact Information
Meredith Spencer, Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org Redwood Day School, Oakland Combined (K-8), Independent
Over the past 16 years, I have worn many hats as an educator—classroom aide, substitute teacher, parent volunteer and administrator.
The Green School Story
We addressed these 4 Pillars of a Green School
- Strive to be Toxics Free
- Use Resources Sustainably
- Create Green Schoolyards and Serve Healthy Food
- Teach Stewardship & Student Action
We have taken these steps from the 7 Steps to a Green School
- Establish a green team
- Develop an action plan
- Integrate into the curriculum
- Involve, inform, and celebrate with the community
Environmental Challenge or Goal Addressed
Our biggest concern on campus is reducing waste. We have done a variety of great Service Learning Projects over the years. Individual teachers have focused on environmental issues, but there had been no school-wide focus.
Our Green School Approach
Members of our parents' association formed a Green Committee in 2007-2008 and interviewed faculty and staff about green practices at the school. They also did a lot of research and presented their findings to our administrators in a report. This led to the formation of a Green Council this year which includes administrators, staff, faculty, students and parents.
Changes and Benefits We've Achieved
We have had a garden program for the lower school for many years, which provides hands-on learning. We grow plants and vegetables for ourselves and we give away plants and seeds from our garden to our school neighbors and the wider community. The Middle School has a garden as well.
Many classrooms are doing a better job at recycling, saving used paper for scratch paper, and discussing the 4R's. It is still somewhat haphazard and we are working to make it consistent and regular in all classrooms. Recycling and composting are now classroom jobs.
At lunchtime, we have re-organized our waste receptacles and purchased a better recycling center with clear labels for all bins, including compost. Our waste hauler collects green waste and compost. We have lunchtime trash monitors to help with sorting.
In the school office, we are working to purchase recycled paper and other environmentally friendly supplies.
For the staff lounge and school events, we are reducing the use of disposables. All staff will be decorating their own ceramic plates and mugs at our staff work day this August so there will be no excuses for not having your own reusable dishes!
The Middle School science classes have integrated environmental science, discussion of waste, and discussion of climate change. Students are asked to estimate their home carbon footprint. The Science Fair is now environmentally oriented. And the Middle School class trip to Washington, DC has purchased carbon offsets to mitigate the emissions from the travel.
The parent-led Green Committee worked tirelessly to provide the RDS community with a clear overview of the green efforts already happening on campus which paved the way for the Green Council.
How We Involved Students
Engaging students is a key ingredient and they will be involved at every level. Two students will serve on the Green Council next year. Students will also be instrumental in monitoring our progress as we reduce waste on our campus by completing audits in the fall and spring. We will be looking for ways to integrate into the curriculum more consistently.
Our Timeline for Change
The Green Council started in May 2009, building on the earlier work done by parents and individual teachers. So, the initial school-wide efforts are starting in earnest in Summer and Fall 2009.
Our Inspiration and Motivation
Particularly passionate parents motivated deeper explorations of what Redwood Day School could do. The Head of School and staff embraced their efforts and they are joining forces through the Green Council.
We will share our focus on reducing waste on campus for next year with the community and educate faculty, staff, students and parents on the vital role each will play in our success.