"Sustainability education is the active cultivation of a community ethic, an ethic that is committed to preserving and enriching our natural, social, and economic resources to meet our present needs, while ensuring that these resources will still be available to nourish and enrich future generations of the school community."
Director of Sustainability
A Message from the Director of Sustainability
When you live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, you recognize the importance of protecting our resources. At Besant Hill, we have a full-time Director of Sustainability, who works with students to give them real-world experience with environmental challenges like waste disposal and water conservation, challenges that push their capacity to problem-solve in creative ways. Students will learn to conduct energy audits and master new technologies, like Global Positioning Systems (GPS). They also master some old technologies, like pruning fruit trees in our orchard. They might also work on our organic farm which provides the school kitchen with organic produce and supplies neighbors who buy shares in this agricultural venture.
At Besant Hill School, sustainability education engages us all in the active cultivation of a community ethic, an ethic that is committed to preserving and enriching our natural, social, and economic resources to meet our present needs, while ensuring that these resources will still be available to nourish and enrich future generations of the school community.
This is not a new concept for our school. Our willingness to embrace a culture of sustainability has emerged frequently in our history, and we will find it embedded in the original Mission Statement of the school: a document that encourages us to achieve our community objectives while maintaining "an appreciation for nature with respect, compassion and responsibility for all forms of life."
What has changed in the last several years is a nationwide shift in awareness for the importance of environmental awareness in education. We find ourselves, for example, now in alignment with the United Nations and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) who have strongly encouraged all independent schools to actively utilize the decade between 2004 and 2015 to develop sustainability strategic plans and "green" practices within our schools. The underlying assumption behind this appeal reflects the assessment that our educational communities have a responsibility to provide a knowledge-based framework for our students to experientially understand and creatively address the environmental challenges that will likely occur within their lifetimes.
As we move forward with our own strategies to create a sustainable Besant Hill School, we are very fortunate to have a network of support with hundreds of other independent and public charter schools. Besant Hill School is a charter member of the NAIS supported Green Schools Alliance (GSA), a coalition of independent schools who have pledged to reduce the release of greenhouse gases by 30% over the next 5 years. We are also in direct communication with many Western region schools that are networking together to share resources and experiences. Developing sustainable strategies is a unique experience for each of our schools, but it is also an effort made richer by the spirit of common purpose and collaboration.
This year Besant Hill School adopted a Sustainability Strategic Plan designed as a system to combine our diverse sustainable strategies into one integrated plan. Perhaps as important, however, is that our plan is also designed as a means to celebrate our achievements in a measurable way. Our strategic plan identifies our sustainable intentions, along with mechanisms for assessment, in these areas: energy and resource management; integrating sustainability into school curriculum; enhancing the natural environment of the school; cultivating community partnerships; and enriching systems of administrative support.
See also: Bioneers and Green School Alliance Regional Conference.
Educating for Sustainability at Besant Hill School
Sustainability Strategic Plan
Strategic Plan for Sustainability Chart
As a result of our ongoing efforts in sustainability education, Besant Hill School of Happy Valley is honored to have been mentioned in the NY Times Dot Earth feature. Read the article here... (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/)