North Elementary School Receives National Recognition for Garden-Based Learning

June 10, 2015

Green Ribbon School

CHARLESTON, WV - The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) honored a West Virginia school for its nationally-acclaimed, award-winning sustainable education initiatives and programs today at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Monongalia County's North Elementary School in Morgantown received the 2015 U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Green Ribbon Schools Award.

This award is part of a larger nationwide program created by the USDE to inspire schools to save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness and offer sustainability education to boost academic achievement and community engagement. Prior to participating in the federal Green Ribbon program, schools must first be recognized by the West Virginia Sustainable Schools program for demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices.

North Elementary School, a large, ethnically diverse school and participant in the Farm to School program, uses garden-based learning as a part of its curriculum. The project is a model approach for elementary schools across the nation and is the state's leader in the development and implementation of the garden-based learning in sustainable education. Currently, over 50 percent of the school’s teachers use garden-based learning in their classrooms.

Resource efficient schools allows administrators to dedicate more resources to instruction rather than operational costs. Healthy schools and wellness practices ensure that all students learn in an environment conducive to achieving their full potential free of the health disparities that can aggravate achievement gaps.

Sustainability education helps to engage students in hands-on learning, critical thinking skills, and integrating a strong cross-discipline approach to developing a solid foundation in STEM subjects. It motivates students, especially those underserved in STEM subjects, to persist and graduate with sought after degrees and robust civic skills.

"Science and environmental education play a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education that prepares them for the jobs of the future," said WVBE President Gayle Manchin. "North Elementary School demonstrates compelling examples of the ways schools can expand their coursework while also helping children build real world skill sets, cut school costs and provide healthy learning environments."

Fifty-eight schools, fourteen districts, and nine postsecondary institutions across the nation were chosen as a USDE Green Ribbon School for their progress in reducing environmental impact and utility costs; promoting better health for students and staff; and offering effective environmental education including civics, STEM and green career pathways.

For more information, contact the WVDE Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.

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