Submitted by Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released the names of the 2019 Green Ribbon Awardees. The awardees from Washington include:
• Lake Washington School District.
• Lopez Island School District.
• The Northwest School.
• Oak Harbor Public Schools.
“Students at the schools and school districts represented this year show a commitment to supporting each other and their community through service learning,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “Their selfless acts show how science, engineering, and sustainability are all connected, and how learning can truly benefit the whole child.”
Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching Kathe Taylor added, “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools helps us recognize schools and school districts that are weaving together student learning across subject areas. Outdoor learning spaces, such as school gardens, are places where students can engage in complex, real-world learning and problem solving in ways that benefit their education and their community.”
Washington’s honorees empower students to improve nutrition and reduce hunger in their community while reducing food waste. Students practice only taking the food they need from the lunch line, donating unopened or uneaten foods to food pantries and composting food waste.
In some examples of integrated science and engineering instruction, a robotics team at Lopez Island School District developed a process that turned old milk jugs into 3D printer filament. These young scientists and engineers asked, “How do we reduce waste on Lopez Island?” and answered it by engineering a solution that reduces waste and saves cost by generating a useful tool for the classroom.
Another robotics team in Oak Harbor Public Schools built a solar-powered tiny house for a homeless member of the community. Through the Water Systems Teacher Fellows Program, a partnership between Sustainability Ambassadors and Cascade Water Alliance, Lake Washington School District teachers are developing problem-based units connected to environmental field studies/careers. At the Northwest School, students engage in a field-based environmental study experience at every grade level.
All of Washington’s nominees were recognized by the Department of Education, and all nominees were presented with a check for $1,250 from California Casualty, which sponsors the program at the state level.
Across the country, 35 schools, 14 districts and four postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The Department of Education honors awardees in a report each year.