The U.S. Department of Education announced today that Middlebrook School in Wilton, CT is among the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees. Middlebrook School was nominated by CT Green LEAF Schools.
“I am just delighted to see Middlebrook honored as a Green Ribbon School, " said Lauren Feltz, Middlebrook School Principal. "Kudos to Heather Priest, Tammy Thornton and their dedicated volunteers who have empowered our students to develop positive habits in stewarding the environment. Springing organically from learning in the Family Consumer Science program at Middlebrook, this program has evolved to touch the daily lives of all Wilton students. This was a teacher-led initiative that has become integral to what we value and who we are at Middlebrook. Congratulations and many thanks to both to Heather Priest for her leadership and to her many colleagues who have made the work sustainable,”.
" Wilton Go Green has been a proud community partner and advocate for the Zero Waste Schools Initiative and the work Heather Priest and her team have been doing since 2016. Middlebrook School has reached many impressive milestones over the last four years in terms of education and awareness around sustainability, not only for their school, but also the community. We look forward to continuing our partnership and supporting not only Wilton Public Schools, but other schools districts in our state," said Tammy Thornton, President of Wilton Go Green.
Over the past five years, Middlebrook School has taken their role as pioneers in the sustainability movement very seriously. Middlebrook School’s robust initiatives and programs have become examples of success for neighboring schools and communities and are pleased to have created a wave of sustainability initiatives throughout Fairfield County schools.
Middlebrook School has met the criteria of the Three Pillars of Sustainability laid out by the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program through a ground up approach that harnessed the power of students, teachers, and staff. The campaign towards sustainability at Middlebrook led to a behavior and policy change for district-wide composting and recycling. What started as an academic challenge turned into new waste stations being set up in every school’s cafeteria throughout the district. We are proud to report that this has resulted in the diversion of nearly 2,000 pounds of food waste per week across the district.
Middlebrook’s teachers are constantly striving to weave elements of sustainability into their classroom. Middlebrook boasts a 3,000 square foot organic garden and 600 square foot greenhouse which is the foundation of the Family & Consumer Science classes. These classes offers students the unique opportunity to sustainably grow their own food and prepare it in a healthy way. It is clear that whether it is an art project made from recycled materials, research into natural resource decimation in the Amazon rainforest or the impacts of air quality on our health, teachers are embracing the opportunity to design curriculum that will translate the importance of sustainability on their futures.
To support these initiatives Middlebrook’s Green Team implemented a bi-annual Zero Waste Week, designed to bring attention to school wide, local, regional, and global environmental issues and maintain our school’s focus on environmental stewardship. High interest, unique activities with kid-appeal include, for example, “pay as you throw,” “pack your lunch raffle,” and “parent zero waste trivia.”
Going green isn’t just a student and teacher lead initiative, the district and town leaders recognized the importance of building for our future and in spring 2018, Middlebrook School flipped the switch on their newly installed solar panels to start reducing our carbon footprint and save our community money on energy. As of September 2019, the district has captured one million kWh and saved $70,000. In addition, Trout Unlimited, an advocate for Wilton’s Norwalk River Watershed, selected Middlebrook School in 2019 for its Stormwater Project to reduce stormwater runoff at the school’s 110-acre campus in Wilton.
The foundation and execution of our accomplishments are made possible through a diverse, inclusive Green Team and strong community partnerships. Middlebrook has its local environmental non-profit to thank for much of it success. With the generous financial and volunteer support of Wilton Go Green, the Zero Waste Schools Initiative has a strong foothold within Middlebrook School as well as other schools in the district.
We believe that Middlebrook School is a model of sustainability for the entire school district and the greater community. We recognize that there is so much more that we can do, both short and long term, and we are committed to continuing our work along the continuum of success.
Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts, and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.
The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 55 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.