A message from the Green Schools National Network Executive Director

As we race to the end of another academic year, many people not familiar with how highly functioning schools work imagine that teachers and administrators soon will be skipping out of the building for a three-month vacation.

Those of us who know well the hard work needed to create learning environments that impact children and families know better. In fact, we understand that much of what makes a school year successful happens during the summer months.

Most of you working in schools are now preparing to close up classrooms where you’ve focused on supporting student growth and learning, but come June, your energy will turn to creating learning spaces both physical and intellectual, that will enhance students’ experiences in the coming school year. Sustainability managers, business officers, and district level leaders will be turning their attention to projects that improve the physical learning space that cannot be done when students are around. At the same time, teachers and school leaders will dive into professional learning and curriculum planning that can only be done with large blocks of uninterrupted time.

If you still have space on your summer dance card, here are some great professional development opportunities for school level teachers and leaders:

  • Educator Climate & Conservation Colloquium: The Ec3, offered by the Green Schools Alliance and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is a one-week intensive session hosted at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center. The Institute is followed by a year of structured check-ins and milestones, as educators and sustainability coordinators build skills and vision to lead their communities to a more resilient future.
  • In Bloom Conference: At the In Bloom Conferences you will learn from cutting edge educators who are redefining what’s possible in early childhood education. Keynote speakers and unique workshops by local practitioners focus on the educational and health benefits of being outside with children. You’ll learn how and why public school kindergartens are letting children climb trees, make mudpies, whittle sticks, take care of animals AND expand their vocabularies, do real math, conduct investigations and develop resilience in nature-based programs.
  • Institute on Education for Sustainability: Spend five rich days with colleagues from around the country at Shelbourne Farms, VT. This week is part conference, part workshop, part retreat. The institute is based on participants’ needs and assets, and provides an opportunity to develop connections between curriculum and community, work and dialogue together, and reflect in an inspiring setting that models sustainability and systems-thinking. Education for sustainability is at the heart of Shelburne Farms and with its PreK-12 schools, university, and community partners.
  • No Teacher Left Inside Summer Institute: This workshop features a two-day immersion workshop on developing geoliteracy and supporting place-based education and three days of hands-on, minds-on explorations in the use of aquaponics in the classroom, teaching science by raising bees, and planning successful fundraising events, and more! Through daily field experiences as well as ample workshop time for collaboration, NTLI participants will develop action plans that meet state standards and establish student learning objectives while using the environment as a context for learning and teaching.
  • Summer Design Studio: The Cloud Institute Summer Design Studio offers teachers, administrators and program designers structured time, space, coaching and peer reviews to create and develop units and protocols that educate for sustainability. Participants gain access to expertise, resources and tools required to design elegant curricula for use in the classroom, protocols for professional development, or action plans designed to implement EfS change initiatives in schools and communities.


If you are up for a cycling adventure that will help you burn calories and provide opportunities to learn about the geography of the state of Iowa, join me on RAGBRAI! Imagine the deep conversations we could have about transforming K-12 education while pedaling 475 miles across the state in late July. (If we can get a critical mass of cyclists, I have someone who will design a GSNN jersery for us!)

Have a great summer! Build…learn…create…and get fit!