Saturday, April 4, 2020

Recertifying as a Green School: A Reflection

I alluded to the fact a week or so ago that I had been knee deep during the last few months working on our Maryland Association of Environmental & Outdoor Education [MAEOE] Green School recertification. Our school was initially certified in 2016, and given it's a 4 year process, we were back in business this fall and winter collecting data and navigating the MAEOE checklist.

I'm happy to report that our green school recertification has officially been submitted, meeting the St. Patrick's Day deadline. (A humorous irony that I appreciated.) What a huge relief to send that off, as it had become the 'round the clock life for me and my committee, especially during the last two weeks. A "perfect storm" tie in during the last 2 weeks before our Spring Break while we also were busy facing the daily changes that needed us to put do some tech triage to get all systems ready for remote learning if needed.

The MAEOE application included deep investigation on all the following parts--a task that seemed to grow considering the nature of our Preschool to 12th grade independent school program. Additionally, everything needed documentation. The requirements were as follows:

   Summary of the School & Top 5 Achievements (over the past 4 year certification period)
   Objective 1: Systemic Sustainability
        1.1 Curriculum and Instruction: Environmental Issue Instruction
        1.2 Professional Development
        1.3 Sustainable Schools
        1.4 Celebration
   Objective 2: Student-driven Sustainability Practices (4 of these 8)
        2.1. Water Conservation/Pollution Prevention
        2.2. Energy Conservation
        2.3. Solid Waste Reduction
        2.4. Habitat Restoration
        2.5. Structures for Environmental Learning
        2.6. Responsible Transportation
        2.7. Healthy School Environment
        2.8 Citizen Science / Community Science
   Objective 3: Community Partnerships, Awards and Special Recognition
        3.1. Community Partnerships
        3.2. Awards and Special Recognition (Optional)

The school as a whole answered our committee's emails or division surveys to indicate what they had been doing, environmentally-speaking. Our team of 7 went out on expeditions in the school's Flickr account, the school website and digital newsletter, our elementary division's digital portfolios, on foot taking classroom pictures, and in person--hitting up our teachers for all sorts of documentation.  There was also a metrics form to be filled out and submitted, separate from the website we needed to create to compile all of this eco-information.

As I mentioned, this was our recertification process, so we had our 2016 website application as our springboard. I've also taken part in helping another school maintain its certification 2 other times, so it was not a new process. But big jobs are big jobs, no matter what!

That said, as I reflect on it (now that I've comfortably met the deadline AND caught up on my sleep), a few things come to mind by way of reflection:
  • While the task was large--one might even say behemoth, the results were rewarding. For us to see our completed package of all of our green accomplishments--it felt good, and continues to feel good. More than just from a "tackling the task" perspective, but also from being able to see the sum total of all our school collectively created over the past 4 years.
  • Were there times I wanted to give it all up, as head of our committee? You better believe it! But not only was it too important to me (as a resident greeniac), but it was important for us to continue to fight the good fight. It certainly was an experience in dedication, perseverance, responsibility, and grit--all lessons that we teach our kids, and ones we are never too old ourselves to learn, relearn, and be reminded of!
  • Are we perfect? No. But then again, no one (or no school) is. Part of the whole Green School certification process is about "darkening our shade of green." We have maintained elements we put in place in 2016 and have shown we have grown from there, environmentally-speaking. Again, that feels good, and it's something of which to be proud.
  • Will we pass? Who knows. We certainly gave it a valiant effort, so that alone stands on it's own two feet. And, if we don't, it becomes part of the design process, where we tweak and modify, then resubmit. It becomes a "First Attempt In Learning" if we initially fail. It is what we teach our kids. It is who we are.
Revisionist history might find itself in places like this, after the fact. Much like having a baby, people don't necessarily want to relive the pain of actually giving birth--but the baby is certainly worth it. Looking at all we accomplished these past 4 years across the board in all grades and all divisions... it certainly was worth it!

Now, all we have to do is cross our fingers and wait!

MAEOE images from,"Outdoor Education" image created at, and Quote image from

No comments :

Post a Comment