There are many ways to describe green local schools, and each school has a different way of caring for Mother Earth. But even with such differences, all of them share a commitment to green living. And being committed to Mother Earth involves systems thinking, and it is at the heart of high-performing schools. In this post, we’ll tell you about 4 local schools in Georgia that were given the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award.
Green Local Schools in Georgia
Georgia is the 24th largest and the 8th most populous state in the US. Since 2008, 14 of its counties ranked among the nation’s 100 most thriving, second only to Texas. The state is also known as the “Empire State of the South”. Atlanta, its capital, has been named a global city and is the most populous in the state.
As one of the greatest US states, green schools throughout Georgia are committed to protecting the health of its students and staff, saving energy and natural resources and taking steps to increase awareness towards green living.
Take a look at these green local schools in this state:
Gilbert Elementary School
This school has been recognized as a leader in STEM in the southeast area of the state. It served as the Public Education Foundation Model for green living, and has been STEM-certified in the state. Each student plays a part in the school’s year-long eco-friendly research project.
Why is this school green?
Green living is part of the school’s programs, and students spend more time exploring nature. They learn to solve problems and develop new solutions to real-world problems. The school also believes in a practical approach when it comes to caring for the planet.
Gilbert promotes wellness by providing eco-friendly areas like gardens, SPLASH lab, and trail system. Through its Care Mission program, they produce fresh produce and serve them in the school’s food pantry. Students help grow the plants, and join in food tastings and recipes.
Gilbert’s students are place-and project-based STEM learners and researchers. At each grade level, students take part in an ongoing, authentic STEM research, and get real-world experiences using critical thinking and problem solving skills. They work together on various projects and learn to share their findings with others. And as they learn along the way, the students create real solutions to real problems.
The school’s blazed trails are a great way for students to experience nature. With over 2 miles of trails, students and their families have a chance to spend at least 1 hour per day in the outdoors. These grounds encourage self-initiated playtime in green surroundings. As a result, they learn to imagine, be creative, discover and explore the natural world, while developing empathy and love for it.
Address: 87 South Burnt Mill RD., LaFayette, GA 30728
Kinchafoonee Primary School
This school is truly special, as it is located in the state’s Lee County. This area has a unique blend of modern and rural feel. It is surrounded by creeks, lakes, and green landscape that offer an excellent learning place for students.
Why is this school green?
KPS serves about 697 students in Kinder through the 2nd grade. It sits on 29 acres, and over 60% of its land is allotted to green living. The wetlands are a great habitat for many species and encourage students to explore and learn in a natural setting. This green space is also good for promoting the health and wellness of the students and staff.
KPS is one of the green local schools that focus on recycling, reducing and reusing items. It joined the Pepsi Recycle Rally and over 51,000 plastic bottles have been recycled instead of going into landfills. Through its recycling program, the school supports both caring for Mother Earth and sustaining natural resources.
Students play an active role in taking care of the school gardens. They help prepare the beds, weed, plant, water and harvest the produce that is grown. The students also have a part in making the school’s butterfly garden. In 2015, KPS was awarded a grant by Monarchs Across Georgia and is now a part of the Roslyn Cater Butterfly Trail.
Through policies and practices, resources are used wisely and safely, allowing for money to be used in ways that will support student learning and growth. The school also has certain wellness programs that address the physical and mental well-being of its students and staff.
Address: 295 Leslie Highway, Leesburg, GA 31763
Morningside Elementary School
This is one of the green local schools that are truly devoted to making the world a better place. MES is located in the heart of Atlanta’s Virginia Highland neighborhood and serves close to 900 K-5 students in an urban public school system.
Why is this school green?
MES was built in 1929 and has not had any major changes in its surroundings since. The school works hard to reduce costs and impacts through energy-saving and waste-reducing measures. Apart from its recently installed HVAC unit, the school invested heavily to help reduce water consumption costs by installing two turf fields. Sprinkler systems were removed and drains were installed underneath to help with water runoff.
Health and wellness of students and staff is also an important aspect at MES. First Fitness Friday is being held on the first Friday of every month and is open to students, parents and the community. The school works with local nutrition and fitness experts and hold workshops on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
There is a “no junk food” policy. Instead, the school has a fresh, year-round garden where students harvest and consume fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs.
Lastly, the school partners with different groups to help students develop a deeper understanding of real-world issues and how to sustain a green living. Learning courses are designed to make them aware of issues such as climate change, clean energy, air and water, and conserving natural resources.
Address: 1053 E. Rock Springs RD, Atlanta, GA 30306
University of Georgia
As one of the biggest green schools in the state, UGA is committed to developing great leaders, stronger communities and thriving natural systems. UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan involves research, learning, service and campus operations that move towards green living.
Why is this school green?
Being a steward of natural resources and advancing eco-friendly living is a strategic importance at UGA. More than 75 rain gardens and 16 cisterns for water harvesting and reuse are installed to improve water quality on campus. UGA also installed more than one megawatt of solar energy system on its main campus. And it’s set to reduce the amount of waste sent to local landfills by 65%. UGA also operates the largest campus transit system in the country that greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
UGA is committed to the health and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The campus has over 16 miles of bike lanes, trails, and shared use paths, and it is tobacco-free. Students are directly involved in growing and providing wholesome foods to other people in need of healthy food. This is done through the student-run UGArden Education & Demonstration Farm and UGA Campus Kitchen.
Green learning is at the core of UGA, and it is committed to solving challenges for a greener planet. Students learn to develop real-world, multi-faceted problems and gain a basic understanding of the interactions between human activity and Mother Earth at local, regional, or global scales.
Address: 220 South Jackson Street Athens, GA 30602-1661