The Green Schools National Network (GSNN) has taken several big steps in 2017 to position itself as a thought leader in the green schools movement. One giant step was the recent launch of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, the first publication dedicated to the advancement of green, healthy, and sustainable K-12 schools. A second step, though not quite as public-facing as the Catalyst Quarterly, was the launch of a new initiative, the Catalyst School and District Network.
The Catalyst School and District Network reflects GSNN’s commitment to strengthening the K-12 sustainable learning community by bringing together sustainability education leaders with school and district level leaders to contribute to the national conversation on how the triple bottom line of sustainability can transform K-12 education. The initial cohort of schools and districts will work with GSNN and our partners over a 3-year timeframe to define an evaluation and research program of best practices that will pave the way for more schools to join the Network. Schools and districts participating in the Network will receive guidance and support from our Professional Development Collaborative, which includes the Cloud Institute, EcoRise Youth Innovations, Creative Change, and Shelburne Farms. The Catalyst Network will also engage an interdisciplinary team of researchers to develop the GreenPrint 2.0 as the guiding document for research and evaluation of green, healthy, and sustainable schools.
The kick-off meeting for the Catalyst Network was held on March 20, 2017 prior to the start of the 2017 Green Schools Conference and Expo in Atlanta Georgia. The meeting was an opportunity for participating schools and districts to meet, get to know each other, and develop a better understanding of the Catalyst Network. Meeting attendees participated in several activities that helped them deepen their understanding of green, healthy, and sustainable schools and took a critical look at the Catalyst Network proposal, proving feedback on what they liked, what was missing, and how the proposal could be a win-win for everyone involved. By the close of the meeting, participants were inspired by the Catalyst Network’s potential to become a framework for effecting transformative change across schools and districts. The schools and districts that participated in the March 20th meeting included:
Prairie Crossing Charter School (Grayslake, Illinois)
Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School (Washington DC)
Common Ground High School (New Haven, Connecticut)
New Roots Charter School (Ithaca, New York)
Environmental Charter School (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Virginia Beach City Public Schools (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Encinitas Union School District (Encinitas, California)
Middleton Cross Plains Area Schools (Middleton, Wisconsin)
Boulder Valley School District (Boulder, Colorado)
Carson City Schools (Carson City, Nevada)
Discovery Elementary School (Arlington, Virginia)
Ford Elementary School (Ackworth, Georgia)
Maplewood-Richmond Heights Middle School (Maplewood, Missouri)
Additional schools and districts joining the first cohort include:
Starr School (Flagstaff, Arizona – Navajo Nation)
Environmental Charter Schools (Los Angeles, California)
It is GSNN’s hope that this first cohort of exemplary schools and districts will lay the foundation for a network of 100+ schools and districts by 2026.