U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, 2012

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Winners at a Glance

78 Schools being honored

50% Underserved student populations

66 Public schools (including 8 charter schools)

12 Private schools

27 LEED registered or certified constructions

3 Collaborative for High Performance Schools certified constructions

17 EPA Energy Star Schools

11 EPA Indoor Quality Tools for Schools

2 Department of Energy Wind for Schools Participants

70 Schools with on-site gardens

19 National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools

51 No idling policies

29 Safe Routes to Schools participants

1000s Hours of community service and pounds of donated student grown harvest

100s Corporate, foundation and community partners

100% Environmentally literate graduates


Munford Elementary School, Munford, AL

The first school in the southeast modeled after a forest
Munford Elementary integrates forestry, conservation, and environmental education themes throughout the curriculum, with interactive exhibits to convey environmental elements. The exhibits were sponsored through successful partnerships with the Alabama Forestry Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Services, U.S. Forest Service, Georgia Pacific, and other local organizations, which collectively donated over $275,000 for the museum-type displays. These exhibits were correlated with state science, social studies, and math standards, and include themes such as trees, recycling, animal tracks, water quality, soil profiles, and careers in natural resources. A $30,000 U.S. Forest Service Kids in the Woods grant added a 125-seat amphitheater to the school. This structure, located on the nature trail, is frequently used for speakers, ceremonies, and workshops. The school has received grants totaling over $23,000, awarded by Talladega Education Foundation, Legacy, Alabama Association for Curriculum Development, Rural Conservation and Development, and CBS One Classroom at a Time. In the last three years, the 5th-grade students have scored 90 percent, 99 percent, and 97 percent on the Alabama science assessment. In 2006, Munford began a partnership with 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC). As a 21st CCLC, it initiated annual Science Camps, a three-week summer enrichment program, which provides opportunities for students to be outside working in the butterfly garden and the greenhouse, planting tomatoes in raised beds, or taking extended environmental field trips. Students participate in the Junior Master Gardener Program, an innovative 4-H youth gardening project. Students are able to carry healthy gardening experiences to their homes and communities.

Winterboro High School, Talladega, AL

Historic Appalachia meets 21st-century community learning center
Built in 1936 by local craftsmen and on the state register of historic places, Winterboro High is the community hub not only for its current students/families, but also for generations of graduates and community members. The original masonry is constructed from rocks hauled to the location from the fields and the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Located on 40 acres of land, the campus is an open, natural habitat that is highly conducive to outdoor studies and wholesome physical activities. The school provides a 21st Century Community Learning Center, known as the CCLC, which focuses on a plethora of outdoor fitness and science studies after-school and summer camps. A lagoon wastewater system provides a unique environmental learning venue. The curriculum features project-based learning, which is heavy on real-life science, technology, and math applications. The students also have many opportunities to participate in problem-solving activities related to environmentally friendly structures, greenhouse-based science, and the value of healthy lifestyles. Outdoor classroom areas allow science classes opportunities to participate in projects such as Neanderthal toolmaking, rocket launching, gardening, composting, and developing competitive robots to solve imaginary bioenvironmental hazards.


The STAR School, Flagstaff, AZ

The nation’s first off-grid solar- and wind-powered school

The STAR (Service To All Relations) School is an elementary charter school located in rural northern Arizona, bordering Navajo Nation. The school serves a population that is entirely Native American. STAR School was established in 2001 as the first charter school in the country to be completely off the power grid, generating 100 percent of its own power, largely through solar and wind generation – an impressive distinction. The solar power inverters used to power the school provide a minute-by-minute calculation of the pounds of greenhouse gas pollution that have not been emitted into the atmosphere, through the school’s use of solar generation rather than coal-fired power plants. While the school was constructed to use renewable energy by geographic necessity, it integrates sustainability and wellness into every aspect of teaching. The approach to education and sustainability at STAR School aims to provide a platform from which the student can step in to the world of environmental challenges, empowered to contribute to a more sustainable future. STAR School promotes self-reliance, alternative building methods, and energy sources such as solar power. The school also hosts workshops about sustainable living, technology, and the arts. Sustainability education is used to complement and reinforce the oldest Navajo traditions throughout the school. Students maintain a garden using Navajo practices and serve their traditionally prepared, organic harvests in the school cafeteria. The school partners with Northern Arizona University to gather data on the school’s air, water, and soil quality, and to provide student mentoring in engineering and sciences. Each student is expected to complete an individual or group project during the middle-school years that: 1) meets identifiable national STEM standards, 2) investigates and provides possible solutions to environmental and sustainability challenges chosen by the student, and 3) provides service to the community that meets the STAR School service-learning rubrics.

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