The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), announced in late June the recipients of the 2021 Best of Green Schools Awards. The awardees include individuals, schools, campuses and organizations that are advancing a shared vision of green schools.
The award recipients were recognized during the 2021 Green Schools Conference and honored for their advocacy and commitment to sustainability in schools. This year’s awardees have overcome the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue their grassroots organization, cross-sector collaboration and inventive hands-on experiential that contributes to helping reduce environmental impacts and costs, improve health and performance, and increase sustainability literacy shaping the next generation of leaders.
“This year’s Green School Awards winners represent a diverse group of educators, students, schools and organizations that champion sustainability in classrooms and are making a difference in their communities,” said Anisa Heming, Director for the Center for Green Schools. “Despite the insurmountable challenges of the last year, it is inspiring to see examples great examples of leadership and true commitment to green schools.”
“At GSNN, we believe that education for sustainability is no longer an option but a necessity. The Best of Green Schools honorees are exemplars for the entire K-12 community,” said Jenny Seydel, Executive Director at GSNN. “Their dedication is an inspiration to all of us who know how difficult it is to make systemic change for a better future.”
The full list of 2021 Best of Green School awardees include:
- K-12 School Award: Green School Bali (Bali, Indonesia) Green School Bali, a PreK-12 international school serving 328 students from over 30 countries (including 36 local scholars from Indonesia), champions a new model of learning focusing on nourishing the physical, emotional, intellectual and expressive development of each student.
- School System Award: Woodland Hills School District (North Braddock, Pennsylvania) After passing a climate resolution and forming a climate committee, Woodland Hills School District developed professional development courses to aid educators in creating climate change lessons for their classrooms and established a climate-friendly food program, recycling infrastructure, gardening programs and energy-efficient building policies. Additionally, the Woodland Hills High School Climate Action Team launched a virtual Youth Climate Action Summit in October 2020, gaining nearly 200 attendees and raising more than $1,500 for climate projects.
- Student Leader Award: Angel Hannah Akinleye (Indianapolis, Indiana) Angel-Hannah Akinleye is a student leader dedicated to addressing climate change and promoting environmental justice in her school and community. Among her numerous activities, she is the director of Youth Environmental Press Team, an initiative to promote Indiana high school journalism on climate change and environmental challenges, has led efforts to push for climate action at her school by drafting a climate emergency declaration, started a school garden and planned a school-wide composting program.
- K-12 Educator Award: Jeff Rivero (Merced, California) A U.S. history and current events teacher at Yosemite High School and recipient of the EPA’s Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators in 2016, Jeff Rivero uses environmental issues in the classroom to get students involved in current events and community service projects. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rivero has focused his efforts alleviating food insecurity and poverty in communities.
- Michelle Curreri Collaborator Award: National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative (Multiple locations), Founded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative supports schools and districts around the country to reopen safely and equitably using outdoor spaces as a strategic, cost-effective solution to increase capacity and provide access to abundant fresh air.
- Advocate Award: Sharon Danks (Berkley, California) Sharon Danks is the founder and CEO of Green Schoolyards America and has transformed school grounds into vibrant public spaces that reflect and enhance local ecology, engage the community, and nurture children as they learn and play. In 2020, she worked tirelessly with the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative to bring peer-reviewed guidance and resources for schools looking to expand the idea of the classroom to outdoor spaces.
- Business Leader Award: Shaw Contract (Cartersville, Georgia) Shaw Contract is a sustainability partner multiplier within the green schools movement, leveraging our resources to support, listen and engage with the education community to understand their needs, and continuing to design and manufacture flooring products to optimize healthy, learning environments.
- Deep impact Award: One Cool Earth (San Louis Obispo, California) One Cool Earth’s mission is to create vibrant school gardens that foster healthy relationships with nature in today’s youth. Partnering with over 10 California schools, the initiative provides weekly hands-on lessons to students in their outdoor, living laboratories. In 2020, One Cool Earth pivoted its lessons to a virtual format to accommodate the new learning frameworks.
- Broad Engagement Award: Fletcher Middle School – Beaches Go Green Club (Jacksonville Beach, Florida) In 2020 Fletcher Middle School’s students addressed the issues of waste and its impact on the planet. the club spreads awareness about waste issues to their peers and school staff and has implemented a reusable water bottle program for all student athletes, reducing over 2,000 water bottles per year for every participating school.
- Creative Approach Award: John Burroughs High School Eco Club (Burbank, California) In 2020, John Burroughs High School Eco Club implemented their No Place for Waste Initiative in which the club members educated their peers and community members about the importance of waste reduction and sustainability. Through art projects, recycling drives and donations, the school has impacted over 250 people in its community.
The Green Schools Conference is an annual event bringing together green school leaders and educators, sustainability industry leaders and green school champions from across the nation dedicated to transforming our schools and buildings into healthier, more sustainable places. This year the conference themes included design for sustainability education and social equity, healthy schools and COVID-19 response, empowering student leadership, achieving climate commitments and much more.