Maryland Green Schools Program A Success At Local Schools
By Jane Seiss
The Maryland Green School program was established by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) 12 years ago.
Through the program, there have been over 400 Green Schools in Maryland, said program coordinator Joanne Schmader. Its highly successful and has been growing rapidly over the last few years.
Almost 40 schools in Anne Arundel County have earned the status. Among them are Bodkin, Pasadena, Jacobsville, and Riviera Beach Elementary Schools, and George Fox and Chesapeake Bay Middle Schools. The program is open to private schools as well. In 2010, Eagle Cove School renewed its Green School certification.
This June, green status winners for 2011 will receive their awards. We had 18 new applications in Anne Arundel County this year, Schmader said. To earn the official green seal, they will have met requirements in five areas: professional development, curricular integration, best management practices, community engagement, and celebration.
An application and documentation of environmental practices over a period of two years are required. These are submitted in the spring. In June, a ceremony and celebration are held. Every four years, Green Schools re-certify their status by providing documentation of their ongoing environmental practices.
There are many ways schools highlight environmentalism. At the elementary schools, theres a lot of focus on solid waste reduction, Schmader noted. They extend their recycling to include things that they wouldnt usually be able to single stream recycle. Items like juice pouches that are collected for TerraCycle.
In Anne Arundel County, Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center is a Green School and resource to public schools that offers outreach through its Chesapeake Connections program. Its staff train teachers in special programs like raising terrapins or Bay grasses, assist with schoolyard restorations (popular at middle and high school levels), and other environmental projects.
Pasadena Elementary School earned its Green status in 2009. The school runs several environmental initiatives. The fifth grade runs a very successful recycling program for the school, explained Lori Earby, Assistant Principal. Every afternoon a team of six children collect the paper and other recyclable items from each classroom and office...The paper is placed in our Abitibi container and everything else goes into the regular recycle bin.
During Bike-to-Work Week, Several staff members will be biking to work on Thursday, May 19 to save the environment from car exhaust, she added.
Kindergarteners will be participating in an overnight trip to Arlington Echo for the first time. They will have hands-on experiences with litter, maps, and animals from the area and how they impact the Bay, Earby stated.
Riviera Beach students have formed an Outdoors Club. Some of their activities have included making and posting signs encouraging conservation at light switches and water fountains, working on gardening projects and grounds beautification endeavors. There is also a TerraCycle program underway in the cafeteria students deposit their juice pouches in a bin for up-cycling. The pouches are sent to TerraCycle for making into bags and pencil cases that are sold at major retailers. In exchange, the school earns a small donation.
Last year, Riviera Beach unveiled its new Chesapeake Bay mosaic. The work of art was made out of donated chipped pottery and china by students under the guidance of artist-in-residence, Susan Stockman. The mosaic is displayed in the school's lobby for all to enjoy.
Schools do absolutely wonderful work with their students - its an inspiring program, said Schmader.
On June 3, MAEOE will host its Green Schools Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park. The event is free of charge and open to all Maryland schools. It will feature an Environmental Literacy Bazaar. Over 50 organizations from all over the state will be there offering hands-on learning stations, Schmader said. To learn more about the day and Green Schools, visit www.maeoe.org.