Education

Green Ribbon Schools Save Money, Teach Environmental Lessons in Rural Alabama

By Diette Courrégé Casey — July 15, 2013 2 min read

Fayetteville High in Sylacauga, Ala., sits on 17 rural acres that have helped it to save money, win national recognition, and give students hands-on environmental lessons.

The school was among 58 nationwide to earn a national Green Ribbon Award this year. The relatively new federal program honors schools and districts for their work in ensuring sustainable, healthy school environments and effective environmental education.

Fayetteville High was one of three schools to receive a visit last week from federal officials. It was part of the first leg of the U.S. Department of Education’s Built to Last Facilities Best Practices tour, which will eventually make its way to New England, the Great Lakes region, and the West Coast.

The tour stopped at two other rural Talladega County schools , both current or former Green Ribbon Award winners: Winterboro High and Munford Middle and High. Educators estimate their efforts have helped save the school system $4 million during the past few years.

“I think one reason why Alabama is a great place to start and why I’m really excited to be here is because people tend to think of the practice of Green Schools as just being about (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification,” said Andrea Suarez Falken, director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, in The Daily Home’s coverage of the visit. “They think of places like Oregon or Connecticut, but they don’t see Alabama as a natural fit. But (Alabama) is such a wonderful, cultural fit.”

Each school appears to have a host of interesting and innovative projects that rural schools nationwide could emulate.

Fayetteville High is a K-12 school with 665 students, half of whom are considered low-income. The former 1920s building was rebuilt in 2006, and the school system says that has helped it reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

The school’s campus includes a certified wetland area, a butterfly garden, a vegetable garden, and a grove with more than 560 trees and shrubs native to Alabama. The school is raising money to build an outdoor classroom and teaching trail, and it uses drought-resistant plant species and efficient watering techniques on athletic fields to reduce irrigation costs.

Winterboro High in Alpine, Ala., has about 320 students in grades 5-12, and officials estimate its energy savings have been more than $360,000 during the past three years, in part due to new building insulation.

Munford Middle and Munford High share the same campus in Munford, Ala. Students’ projects include creating a blue bird trail, protecting wetlands, and recycling 400 pounds of paper. They’ve also electro-shocked a pond on campus and are working with professors to raise tilapia in 1,000-gallon tanks.

John White, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach, was among those who toured the schools.

“The local communities here are built around the schools and they can really support the school in a number of ways,” he said in another Daily Home story about the visit. “They’ve become very creative about the ways that the partners can support the schools. You can tell in the students that it’s had a great impact on them.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read