Shughart Middle School has achieved recognition as the first certified green school on the installation and within the Department of Defense Education Activity under the Fort Bragg Green Schools Initiative.
The Fort Bragg Green Schools Initiative was based on the Sustainable Sandhills Green Schools Program and was developed by Sustainable Fort Bragg.
Sustainable Fort Bragg education and training manager, Mindy Love-Stanley, collaborated with Shughart Middle School science teacher Tara Nye to create the program when Nye participated in an internship with Fort Bragg as a Kenan Fellow through North Carolina State University. The Kenan Fellows program is designed to enhance curriculum relevance, engage educators and agencies in unique professional partnerships and promote growth opportunities for teachers.
To participate in the Fort Bragg Green Schools Initiative, schools on post are encouraged to implement a series of sustainability measures including energy conservation, recycling, waste reduction, pest management, water management and sustainable purchasing for items such as supplies, cleaning materials and food services. Schools can tailor the Green Schools Initiative to accomplish specific objectives and meet the unique needs of their students and personnel.
Nye and school counselor Dr. Mona Hegarty were driving forces behind the implementation of the Green Schools Initiative at Shughart Middle School. When they proposed the program to Mary Leinard, school principal and their fellow faculty, they received enthusiastic support. “We have many environmentally conscious teachers on our staff and many students have identified themselves as environmentalists in our Roots and Shoots environmental club and our gifted program,” Hegarty explained. These proponents encouraged pursuit of their Green Schools certification with participation in contests, community involvement opportunities, daily announcements and signage. They also developed new policies to support environmentally sound culture changes.
According to Leinard and administrative officer Stuart Wheeless, Shughart Middle School has integrated numerous initiatives for environmental improvement into operations. A Green Team, including students and faculty members, is responsible for ensuring adherence to program goals. Personnel have programmed their copiers to enter conservation mode after five minutes and power down after four hours. They send forms electronically and they maintain a recycling program. Many students use alternative transportation, as evidenced by the full bicycle racks on campus. The school has also instituted “no idle” zones for vehicles. Students recently planted a school garden as well, and they are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their flowers in the spring.
The Green Schools Initiative can produce many benefits for schools. Participants can save money for DoDEA through reduced resource use and increased operational efficiency.
“The Green Schools Initiative supports Army sustainability directives and also serves as a vehicle to involve students in the problem solving process,” said Love-Stanley. Teachers can use the themes of sustainability, the environment and resource conservation in their lessons to enhance their science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics curriculum. STEAM attempts to transform the typical teacher centered classroom by encouraging a curriculum that is driven by problem solving, discovery and exploratory learning and by requiring students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution. For Shughart Middle School, the entire facility is a living laboratory for students.
“Being a green school enriches our curriculum and the opportunities available to students,” Nye said. “Students want to see real world applications of what they are learning. As a teacher, it is common to hear a student say, ‘Why do we have to learn this?’
To celebrate their achievement as the first certified green school, Shughart Middle School hosted a poster contest and poetry contest among students. At a celebration on campus on Oct. 30, winners of the contests presented their entries to their fellow Blackhawks, teachers, Fort Bragg dignitaries and parents.
Jalyssa Dugrot, Kyle Southard and Arik Vick displayed their posters, which featured themes of energy and recycling. Gabriel Fair and Kenzie Eddings read their poems. “Energy is what we need for you and me,” Fair wrote. Eddings addressed the crowd with a simple statement: “The Earth needs help from you.”
Fort Bragg school system superintendent Dr. Emily Marsh congratulated the students and faculty on their program and for “the setting of the bar.”
She also challenged them to commit to sustainability as individuals.
“(Sustainability) will change our future and change our world for the better,” Marsh said.
As for the future of the Green Schools Initiative, Hegarty and Nye hope that the program will expand. “We would like to be a model for other schools and influence them to practice conservation every day,” said Hegarty.
“I hope that all Fort Bragg schools will work towards receiving this recognition,” Nye added. “More importantly, I hope all DoDEA schools throughout the world will work with their installations and become green schools, too. Teaching our students to respect their environment should be a part of every school’s curriculum.”
For more information on the Fort Bragg Green Schools Initiative, contact program coordinator Mindy Love-Stanley at 432.8476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.