Mission Statement & Philosophy of School: Sustainability

Sustainability is an especially important subject to cover in education today: therefore, we pronounce “sustainability” as an overarching theme and principle for the foundation of our “ideal school.” Almost every child is to some degree aware of global warming and society’s effort to reduce our effect on the environment. However, most children are probably not aware of how their individual actions and efforts can improve the challenges we face. The publicized push for society to become more “green” is a recent and popular issue. One of the greatest things that focusing on sustainability will teach students is that preserving the environment and reducing our carbon emissions isn’t just to save the rainforests and polar bears, but also to save us. Students learn how our negative impact on the environment greatly affects not only all mankind, but also their immediate communities, and what we can do to make our relationship with the environment a healthier one.

With sustainability as a focus for the school, students will learn that they have an important role in a collective, societal effort to change the ways we impact the environment. Teaching students about environmental issues and how to address them will encourage students to be active members of their communities and advocates for reducing carbon footprints and being more conscientious about conserving energy. Most importantly, we want our students to be motivated advocates for the environment because they will understand that solutions for reducing our impact on the environment are achievable.

Learning about environmental health in school serves other important aspects of our students’ education: supporting children’s resiliency and fostering “Learning through Inquiry.” In her 1998 article, “How to Be a Turnaround Teacher/Mentor,” Bonnie Benard discusses different ways to foster resiliency in children. Letting young people contribute means giving students responsibility and “opportunities to participate” (Benard, 1998, p. 4). This concept of giving students responsibility and opportunities to participate will be applied at our school in relation to sustainability via projects with school gardens, local farming, recycling programs, etc. Students will learn how the environment affects their communities and future, and solution-oriented projects will encourage them to adapt to the environmental challenges they face and take more responsibility for their impact on the planet. Hopefully, with the tools they learn through our school’s focus on sustainability, students will look for more opportunities to participate in their homes and communities as energy conservationists during and after their time at the ideal school.

Sustainability discussions, activities, and projects that require students’ ideas, solutions, and work in order for success are important for both nurturing confidence and ensuring students’ interest in the material. This “learning through inquiry” sort of approach through the school’s sustainability projects will help build children’s belief in their own abilities to address environmental concerns and show them that they do have the knowledge and skills to overcome global challenges. Teaching and learning through the principle of sustainability will help ensure a better future for all mankind because the earlier children develop healthy habits and awareness of their impact on the environment, the more time they have to make a difference and help others to do the same.