I had the honor of attending the Georgia Green Strides Tour 2017 with Andrea Falken of the U.S. Department of Education and Keisha Ford-Jenrette of the Georgia Department of Education, and numerous other national, state and local partners. We rode a van to some of the school sites that had been honored over the years as U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. This year’s two-day tour focused on the theme “Taking Learning Outside,” and covered a wide range of approaches.
It’s a rainy day in Walker County, Georgia. In most schools, this would mean a day indoors with children and teachers wishing they could be outside. At Gilbert Elementary, you can look out the window and see a group of kindergarteners, in lime green rain suits, splashing their way across the playground on their way to the forest. These students will spend the next two hours making mud pies, building boats from found materials and observing the differences rain makes in their environment.
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) began in 2011-2012 by defining “green school” according to three Pillars. In 2012-2013, ED added a District Sustainability Award and began an annual tour spotlighting the practices of honorees and launched a Green Strides resources portal for all to employ. The 2013-2014 cycle added an honor for state officials and 2015 brought a postsecondary category and saw the revamping of the Green Strides portal.
Need an occasion for celebration? On Wednesday, July 19th, we recognized 45 schools, nine districts, nine postsecondary institutions, and one state education agency official at a Washington, D.C. ceremony for their efforts to cultivate sustainable, healthy facilities, wellness practices, and authentic place-based learning.
UPDATE August 18, 2017 and August 21, 2017: The schedule for the second day (September 20) has been updated. Please see below.
As my toddler son grows, I’ve become intrigued by the outdoor and forest preschool movement. In fact, so convinced have I become of the benefits of outdoor play and learning at his age that I’ve made a point to get Íñigo out every day of his first two years — swimming, hiking, running, biking, camping, climbing, and skiing. There’s not a day or a temperature at which I don’t bundle him up and get him out, and Íñigo absolutely loves it.
This is just one of many reasons I’m especially thrilled to share that we’ll conduct a fourth iteration of the Green Strides Tour, which spotlights our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honorees’ work, this year to Georgia, and focused on the importance of outdoor learning.