Exemplary Schools

The Center for Ecoliteracy has identified and supported a number of schools and projects that embody processes and practices for effective education for sustainability.

Schools are systems, and they are communities. They are themselves important nodes in the web of institutions that constitutes society. Whatever happens in schools will have profound effects on the rest of society.

The most effective schools are often communities that model the traits of sustainable societies:

  • They know that children's ability to learn, and what they learn, are greatly affected by the vibrancy and health of the culture of the school and the quality of the relationships within it
  • They function as "apprenticeship communities" in which leadership is shared and members of the community see themselves and others as both teachers and learners
  • They often observe that "the curriculum is anywhere that learning occurs" (whether or not it is intended or directed by educators)

Effective schools frequently incorporate one or several of the following practices:

  • They connect children with the natural world through programs and projects outside the classroom, such as school gardens, habitat restoration, and communicating their experience in nature through painting and poetry
  • They practice place-based education that teaches students about the people, history, culture, and natural features of their local community and region
  • They practice environmental project-based learning, involving students in local projects that are meaningful and make real contributions to their communities
  • They integrate in-class learning with hands-on experiences and with all of the activities (including, e.g., lunch) of the school
  • They address whole children, recognizing that children's ability to learn is affected by their health and well-being, and that these are in turn affected by such factors as nutrition, exercise, and the health of the natural environment
  • They employ the best current understandings of how brains and minds develop and how children learn. They attend to children in all their dimensions, including cognitive, emotional, and aesthetic.
center for ecoliteracy - Migrating the Food Lab Program: From Davenport to Pesca
Michael K. Stone

A highly evolved school lunch program where students are the cooks finds opportunities for innovation in a new setting.

center for ecoliteracy - when the building is the teacher
Carolie Sly
John Dale
Michael K. Stone

Beyond "green": a discussion with architect John Dale about the many ways that campus, teaching, and learning complement each other.

Lisa Bennett - What Comes after Diversity, Globalism, and Sustainability?
Lisa Bennett

How all the themes can come together and make really meaningful education for 21st-century learners.

Read More

Type Titlesort icon Description
Essay The Art of a Watershed: "Tenderness of Cranes"

Hands-on classroom and field activities that produce dramatic and beautiful nature-based poetry and art.

Essay River Crossing Environmental Charter School

This excerpt from our book Smart by Nature tells the story of a teacher who knew that progress starts with "not knowing" all the answers.

Essay Rethinking Lunchtime: Making Lunch an Integral Part of Education

One school's strategies for improving its lunch program, including reversing lunch and recess.

Essay Multiple Harvests

Project-based learning integrates environmental awareness, learning, and community vitality into students' curriculum and lives.

Essay Migrating the Food Lab Program: From Davenport to Pescadero

A highly evolved school lunch program where students are the cooks finds opportunities for innovation in a new setting.

Blog A Green School with a View...of Dignity

A green school design from New Orleans puts student dignity at the center of the design process.

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