Montgomery, AL - Three Alabama public schools were nominated for the United States Department of Education’s (USDE) new Green Ribbon Schools Award. The nominations, which were sent to the USDE, include Mill Creek Elementary School (Madison City), Munford Elementary School (Talladega County), and Winterboro High School (Talladega County).
The USDE Green Ribbon Schools will recognize the winning schools who save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness, and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement. The recognition award is part of a larger USDE effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.
“The schools who applied went through a rigorous review process for this award,” said Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of Education. “I am very proud of the teachers, staff, students, and parents that applied to be Alabama’s first Green Ribbon Schools. The enthusiasm, hard work, and creativity demonstrated by the three awardees provide an excellent environment for a well-rounded education with an emphasis on addressing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”
Mill Creek Elementary is the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified school in North Alabama (certified April, 2011) and the first school in Alabama to use the LEED for Schools rating system. It is only the second public school in the entire state to receive this national recognition for environmentally responsible design.
Munford Elementary is the first school in the southeast modeled after a forest and integrates forestry, conservation, and environmental education themes throughout the curriculum. Through “theme immersion,” daily instruction uses the physical design and interactive exhibits to convey environmental elements.
Winterboro High School students are prepared for their future through project-based learning which is heavy in real life science, technology, and math applications. Students are engaged in projects that involve problem solving activities related to environmentally friendly structures, greenhouse related science, and the value of healthy lifestyles.
In addition to the selected nominees, Bear Exploration Center (Montgomery County) and Marbury High School (Autauga County) also applied for the Green Ribbon Schools Award.
Applications were evaluated in March by a team of representatives from business, industry, state agencies, and environmental organizations. Applications included information based on high achievements or demonstrated improvements in three eligibility areas. The nominated schools excelled in the areas of environmental impact and energy efficiency, healthy school environments and environmental and sustainability education.
On April 23, the USDE will announce the national awardees. A total of 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Education were each allowed to nominate up to three public schools and one private school. The national awardees will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Green schools and environmental literacy complement the goals of providing a well-rounded education for the 21st century, of modernizing schools at reduced costs, and of accelerating learning.”
The schools will receive State Board of Education recognition at the May 10th meeting and a picnic lunch for up to five representatives from the nominated schools, provided by the Environmental Education Association of Alabama (EEAA). The schools will also receive Project Wild and Project Wet, curriculum and teaching guides, provided by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. EEAA will also provide the registration of one school to its 2013 Conference and membership to the organization.Also, Green Ribbon Flags, sponsored by Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education, will be presented to each of the three schools.
About the EEAA: The Environmental Education Association of Alabama (EEAA) is a non-profit group comprised of educators and professionals involved in teaching about the environment. EEAA is an affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). Throughout the year, EEAA conducts Workshops, hosts an annual Conference, and offers Members' Trips to various natural sites. EEAA also sponsors an annual awards program, maintains free teaching trunks and offers financial grants to its membership.
Legacy is an organization, making a difference in Alabama's environment. This is evidenced by the more than $2.5 million in grants and scholarships Legacy has offered Alabamians for environmentally related projects and education. Legacy has trained more than 3,000 of Alabama's teachers about our environment in a fun and exciting way. In turn, those teachers pass the knowledge along to their students. Legacy is educating Alabama's future generations about the importance of protecting our environment for future generations. The “Protect Our Environment” car tag provides money to support their projects.