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Green Schools National Conference

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    Ben Smith

Expeditionary Learning is proud to be involved with the 2nd annual Green Schools National Conference. EL's own Jennifer Seydel is a featured speaker, Chief Operating Office Tom Van Winkle will be a panelist, and EL schools from across the country will be both presenting and present at the conference. 




From the Green Schools press release:

Green Schools Come of Age

Largest-ever gathering will focus on environmental literacy, energy efficiency, healthier food, eco-friendly purchasing and more

US Secretary of Education Duncan also on hand

to tout Green Ribbon Schools awards program

DENVER, CO – January 10, 2012 – The largest-ever gathering of K-12 school administrators, teachers, students and parents next month marks the arrival of a growing national movement that sees ‘greening’ the nation’s schools as the way to save money, improve student health and achievement, and save the planet.

The Green Schools National Conference, set for Feb 27-29 in Denver and sponsored by the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), also will include the unveiling of landmark research exploring the connection between green schools and academic performance.

 “Until recently, those advocating the ‘greening’ of our schools were individual educators who had yet to find each other, let alone a collective voice,” says GSNN director Jim McGrath. “This event will show that the green school effort has become a national movement. We’ve arrived.”

The conference has attracted major league speakers – headlined by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who will rally support for his department’s new Green Ribbon Schools Program -- as well as major support from a unique mixture of CEOs and other leaders from the private and non-profit sectors.

The term “green schools” has come to mean more than energy-efficient buildings and school gardens. “Green” schools integrate an environmentally-focused culture throughout the school – from the classroom to every aspect of school operations – including comprehensive reduce-reuse-recycling programs and healthier options in the lunchroom.

At the heart of green schools are the students.  In many schools, students are the ones initiating green practices, especially in the areas of recycling as well as auditing and suggesting ways to reduce energy usage.

McGrath points out, however, that there are various shades of green. Some schools have jumped into the ‘deep end’ of enviro-awareness, while others remain in the shallows, needing advice, direction and encouragement. “Whether your school is already 'green' or just getting started, the conference will offer practical strategies and solutions, as we provide a ‘road map’ for our conferees. The conference is only the first step for many.”

McGrath points to the Green School National Network’s three goals:

  • Saving our kids – Efforts include offering healthier foods in schools -- adding organic/all-natural choices, revising menus to focus on better nutrition -- and providing outdoor classrooms/activities prepare students to become committed to and engaged in environmental learning.
  • Saving money-- More efficient building designs, reducing/recycling materials, and energy-saving strategies can mean cost-savings later used in the classroom. 
  • Saving the planet - School gardens, using chemical-free cleaning supplies, adopting reduce-reuse-recycle plans benefit the environment and the planet.

The conference will be more than a mere pep rally, says McGrath. For example, “Solutions Summits” on various topics will bring key players together to define and set goals for future action and students from around the country will hold their own Student Summit in addition to participating in main conference activities

“This 'take action' approach is a major departure from the typical one-way information sharing that occurs at most conferences,” he points out. “And the students will no doubt keep the adults on track.”

For more information, visit 

About the Green Schools National Network

The Green Schools National Network (GSNN) advances the national green and healthy schools movement by connecting like-minded and passionate education, non-profit, corporate and public sector individuals and organizations.  GSNN is nationally recognized as the premier partner in advancing collaboration to integrate a green and healthy culture in schools to ensure that current and future generation of students are environmentally literate as well as practice and promote sustainability in their community.