EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. has nominated just one New York school for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program: Anne Hutchinson Elementary School in Eastchester.
The ED-GRS program is a voluntary program that celebrates schools that are active in “three pillars” of sustainability: reducing environmental impact, improving the health and wellness of students and faculty, and concentrating on environmental education.
It is the first comprehensive green schools program introduced by the federal government. The program began in the fall of 2011, with the first winner being named that spring.
According to representatives of the State Education Department, the recognition award is part of a U.S. Department of Education effort to "identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide goal to increase energy independence and economic security.”
Theresa Cherry, the principal at Anne Hutchinson, said that it was a privilege and honor to be the only school nominated in the state.
“To be the only school in the state to receive this recognition only validates Anne Hutchinson’s commitment to working together with students, staff and the community to produce a school environment that is energy efficient, sustainable and healthy for children,” she said.
Teacher Dave O’Neil – who received an Earth Day award from the county and was named one of the top recyclers in Westchester – has been at the forefront of sustainability education for Anne Hutchinson.
Among other initiatives, under O’Neil has cultivated a sustainability garden that had become a tool in the classroom and introduced a recycling and compost program that cut their lunchtime waste from eight large bags to just half a bag each day.
“The recognition from Commissioner King is a testament to the ongoing efforts of this school community,” Superintendent Walter Moran said. “Anne Hutchinson students and faculty have exhibited leadership, foresight and a passion in promoting a healthy and sustainable school environment. To be the only school in the state nominated for this national recognition is quite extraordinary.”
The winners of the ED-GRS program will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Earth Day, April 22. Honorees will be invited to the national ceremony.