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5 Charter Schools Making Every Day Earth Day

5 Charter Schools Making Every Day Earth Day

April 22, 2024

As our world faces environmental challenges, there is a growing realization that education plays a pivotal role in nurturing sustainable habits. In honor of Earth Day, we are shining a spotlight on five charter schools that embody the principles behind Earth Day in their daily routines.  

From creative curriculum approaches to hands-on conservation projects, these schools showcase the intersection of learning and sustainability. Join us as we explore how these five schools, among many, go beyond the annual Earth Day celebration, making every day an opportunity to cultivate a greener tomorrow. 

 

1. Environmental Charter School in California 

In 2010, Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), a charter management organization in Los Angeles, received the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon. The Green Ribbon recognition was established to honor schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that demonstrate exemplary efforts in three pillars: reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. 

For ECS, environment is an integral part of what they do. Their campuses feature hundreds of fruit trees, which serve as free vending machines, and the school diverts 42% of its waste through on-site composting and recycling programs. Additionally, ECS collects and harvests rainwater in rain barrels and a have a 1,700-gallon underground cistern.  

Beyond their sustainable practices, the ECS curriculum tackles environmental topics such as climate change, deforestation, and carbon emissions, as a former ECS student wrote on a blog post for the National Alliance. 

 

2. Commonwealth Charter Academy in Pennsylvania 

Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) is a cyber charter school serving 19,000 students from K-12th grades across Pennsylvania. One of CCA’s Works Center, AgWorks, is the largest K-12 school-based aquaponic facility in the country. AgWorks grows fresh produce and raises fish and is 100% powered by solar panels. At AgWorks, students can participate both virtually and in-person to learn about clean energy and ways to reduce energy waste. 

For their environmental efforts, CCA was recognized as a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2021. 

 

3. Eagleville Elementary Charter School in Wisconsin 

Eagleville Elementary Charter School of Eagle, Wisconsin focuses on promoting environmental literacy using a community approach, and their efforts were recognized in 2023 by the U.S. Department of Education when it was named a Green Ribbon School. Through composting, recycling, and eliminating plastic and paper in the cafeteria, students and staff actively participate in reducing waste in their daily practices. Eagleville has also worked hard to reduce outdoor air pollution by combining two bus routes to increase efficiency and using a no-idling policy. 

Students make daily use of the school gardens and access to Jericho Creek to curate a hands-on experience with the natural environment. Students use literature, including the One Book One School program to learn about advocacy and environmentalism. 

 

4. Green Street Academy in Maryland 

Founded in 2010, Green Street Academy (GSA) is a 6-12 public charter school located in West Baltimore serving 875 students annually. GSA was designed to transform how scholars prepare for college and careers in the 21st century through the lens of environmental, human, and personal economic sustainability. 

Green Street Academy is not your typical school. This charter school is known for a hands-on teaching strategy that incorporates farming vegetables, raising tilapia, and maintaining a chicken coop for fresh eggs. The school sells produce to local restaurants and runs a community-supported agriculture program for students’ families. 

GSA is continuing to expand its platform with dynamic new initiatives, like the Elijah E. Cummings Innovation Center and GSA Farms—the latter being a social enterprise run by the students of Green Street Academy which will provide fresh, affordable leafy greens and herbs grown directly from the school’s new hydroponic greenhouse. 

 

5. GREEN Charter Schools in South Carolina 

With seven campuses located throughout South Carolina, Global Renewable Energy Education Network GREEN Charter Schools prepare students in STEM to creatively and responsibly impact our complex world in renewable energy, sustainability, and conservation efforts. 

GREEN Charter Schools believes that a proven, relevant STEM-based curriculum paired with a focus on Renewable Energy education is the path to expansive possibilities and fulfilling careers for students. 

The school utilizes the N.E.E.D Project’s energy curriculum, which offers students a comprehensive and objective platform utilizing activities focused on the renewable and nonrenewable energy sources that fuel our country, including their economic and environmental impact. Students use structured approaches, such as the engineering design process, to employ critical thinking skills and solve problems. 

Happy Earth Day!  

Daniel Tellez is the manager of marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

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