Environmental Sciences Magnet at Mary Hooker Named a 2013 National Green Ribbon School

Spotlight on Excellence     May 2013

 

Environmental Sciences Magnet at Mary Hooker Named a 2013 National Green Ribbon School

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on April 22nd announced that Hartford’s Environmental Sciences Magnet (ESM) School at Mary Hooker was selected as a 2013 National Green Ribbon School for its accomplishments in raising student achievement through an effective environmental curriculum that promotes health and wellness and reduces energy costs and negative environmental impact.
ESM at Mary Hooker was one of 64 schools and 14 districts to be so honored. Two other Connecticut schools, Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School and Common Ground High School, both of New Haven, were also recognized. The schools were nominated for the national award by the state Department of Education, based on their success in Connecticut’s Green Leaf Schools Program, which is designed to create green, healthier learning spaces.
“The National Green Ribbon Award validates the considerable amount of work that went into creating our portfolio of highly engaging themed schools where students can access a rigorous curriculum focused on college readiness,” said Hartford Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto. “Mary Hooker’s innovative instructional approach will better prepare our students for the careers of the future.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program, now in its second year, is a collaboration between the department, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies hope that, by honoring green schools and sharing their best practices, they will serve as examples for the rest of the nation.
“Today’s honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green,” said Secretary Duncan. “ . . . And the great thing is that the resources these honorees are using are available for free to all schools.”
Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker creates a rigorous learning atmosphere for students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade in a new $41 million Platinum level LEED building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. The student population is equally divided between Hartford residents and residents of 43 neighboring towns.
The facility includes a planetarium, butterfly vivarium, greenhouse, aquatics lab, weather station and an organic community garden.
The school works to have students learn and apply sustainability practices through project-based service learning. Both of these goals are supported through the collaborative efforts of a science magnet coach, resident scientists, Central Connecticut State University and the Connecticut Science Center.
Fifth-grade teachers, for example, have designed a project that allows students to audit energy use and develop a project to reduce consumption. First grade classes, using the butterfly vivarium and working with a resident entomologist, rear butterflies and release them after tagging them through an organization called Monarch Watch.
Students grow flowers in the greenhouse that they can sell in the spring. They also construct nectar feeders, write information brochures and donate money to help protect the forested areas of Central America where the insects spend the winter. Service learning projects in other grade levels include recycling and sorting, raising plants to donate, bird diversity, composting, energy audits of classrooms and homes and trout rearing and release.
"Today's announcement was a great affirmation of our programs, magnet theme, and faculty,” said Principal Peter Dart. “We have worked very hard to utilize the environmental sciences theme to increase achievement, environmental stewardship, and passion with our students and community."

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