Talbott Springs Elementary School Maryland Green School Application Summary
The “greening” of Talbott Springs has been occurring over the course of many years.We started the process long before there was a Green School status to apply for.We were recycling paper over ten years ago and launched a Christmas paper recycling program in our neighborhood eight teen years ago.We had a school-wide Planting Day that was covered by The Baltimore Sun in 2002.That day included planting native gardens, planting trees to create a no-mow zone, and restoring eroded areas.In addition, the introduction of new technology has made a significant difference in our ability to stay green.Although our school has long been involved in various “greening” initiatives, the Maryland Green School program has given us a venue through which we can confirm what our school is all about.
Throughout this summary you will hear the voices of students, parents and staff members.
The Green Team was started 7 years ago and was the beginning of our Green School application process.“The Green Team" has done many things to help our school become greener.The whole school participates in this job, from recycling glue sticks to recycling paper, from turning off the lights to learning about energy conservation, from classroom activities to field trips, we’ve really made some changes.In Green Team, we recycle all of the school’s recyclables twice a week.We also recycle boxes in the recycle bins next to the playground.When we first started, we collected once a week and the regular trashcans were full.Now we collect twice a week, the recycling bins are full, and the custodians have less trash to pick up.”
We also recycle plastic, glass, cans, printer ink cartridges, glue sticks, and glue bottles. We have installed motion sensor lighting in almost every classroom and hallway to limit the amount of electricity being used. In addition, we have transitioned to biodegradable trays in the cafeteria that are also made of recycled materials. The old trays were made of Styrofoam.
Besides recycling we have also created a “culture of conservation.”This includes running student papers back-to-back and copying onto the back of discarded paper in order to reduce paper usage.Although our copier count is similar to previous years, our enrollment has increased by over 30 students.Our media specialist reuses the same paper each year “to cover all the bookshelves” in the media center rather than using new paper each year. The art teacher reuses paper to cover the bulletin boards throughout the school. Electronic media has made it possible for us to reduce our paper usage. All communications from the front office, administrators and teachers occur via email. Google docs are used to share information on long range planning, "soar" students, and general classroom information. Prizes on our PBIS prize cart have transitioned from reused items to non-product items (lunch bunch, homework passes…).
Instruction is an area in which we have excelled.All grades include environmental extensions of the curriculum.Field trips abound with environmental themes – Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Howard County Nature Conservancy, The Zoomobile, Zam’s Quest, a partnership with the Audubon Society, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Gibson Day School Environmental Day, schoolyard and neighboring stream walking field trips.Fifth grade has been helping restore a riparian buffer for ten years!We’ve worked on habitat restoration with the oyster reef ball and rain garden projects. We also use our garden, local stream, and forest area to learn about the environment. Currently we have teamed up with Home Depot to build an outdoor classroom, where we will use different weather instruments to learn about the environment.
We have forged connections with organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and staff members have eagerly sought out professional development opportunities that seed their lessons in school. "Working through the process of the application for Talbott Springs Elementary School's status as a 'Green School' has provided an opportunity for staff and students to self-reflect on energy usage, recycling and reuse of personal items. Daily reminders through afternoon announcements are used to remind the students and staff of ways to be green. This heightened awareness is translating into actions and instruction that are supportive of the future of the earth as a safe, clean place for the next generation.
As important as it is for us as adults to model the behaviors we wish to see in our students, the most important change is what we see in our children.It is best stated here, “I think it's wonderful how the students have become so conscious of their own green-ness. They remind me to call for recycling in the cafeteria during clean up time and they also remind us to turn off the lights when leaving the classrooms. This is the time to reach them, when they are young, so they can make green lifestyle changes now. After all, they are the future.”These same students will carry forth the values we have worked to instill as a Green School, and that is something that we at Talbott Springs think is most important. Our student council has recently developed new ideas and traditions to help us become more green. They also act as the avenue for communication between the teachers on the Green Team and the rest of the students in the school.
Top Five Reasons Why Talbott Springs is a Green School
Number Five Replacement of 41 Year Old, Inefficient Facility Components:lighting throughout the building, boiler and chillers. Including using motion sensor lighting throughout the building.
Outdoor Classroom and Garden: Talbott Springs has an outdoor garden and classroom that gives the students and staff a place to learn about compost, planting, and weather. It also provides the school and community with fresh vegetables to enjoy.
Student involvement: Our Student Council and Green Team work hard to develop projects to help TSES stay green. They also help keep our staff, students, and parents informed by creating announcements, posters, and projects. This year we had our first annual wrapping paper drive. This idea was created by one of our 4th graders, and the entire 4th grade helped out with the project. The student council also helped develop new ideas for TSES.
Culture of Recycling:This occurs throughout the building, especially in the cafeteria, staff lounge, and in each and every classroom. One of the biggest changes is the use of cafeteria trays made out of recycled materials that are also biodegradable.
…and the Number One reason why Talbott Springs is a Green School…
Classroom instruction activities in every classroom, and field trips in all grades dealing with environmentally sound concepts.