As my toddler son grows, I’ve become intrigued by the outdoor and forest preschool movement. In fact, so convinced have I become of the benefits of outdoor play and learning at his age that I’ve made a point to get Íñigo out every day of his first two years — swimming, hiking, running, biking, camping, climbing, and skiing. There’s not a day or a temperature at which I don’t bundle him up and get him out, and Íñigo absolutely loves it.
This is just one of many reasons I’m especially thrilled to share that we’ll conduct a fourth iteration of the Green Strides Tour, which spotlights our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honorees’ work, this year to Georgia, and focused on the importance of outdoor learning.
As background, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy, and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoor physical activity; and environmental and sustainability education. To bring additional attention to honorees’ practices, ED-GRS has conducted a Green Strides Tour since 2013, allowing schools, school districts, and postsecondary institutions to share their work with community leaders and policymakers and celebrate their achievements.
The following is the tentative tour schedule for this September’s tour in the state of Georgia. Updates will be shared through our newsletter.
8:15 a.m.—9:45 a.m. Pharr Elementary School, 1500 North Rd, Snellville, GA 30078
10:15 a.m.—11:15 a.m. Mason Elementary School, 3030 Bunten Rd, Duluth, GA 30096
12:00 p.m. —1:30 p.m. High Meadows School, 1055 Willeo Rd, Roswell, GA 30075
2:30 p.m.—4 p.m. Ford Elementary School, 1345 Mars Hill Rd NW, Acworth, GA 30101
8:15 a.m.—9:15 a.m. Morningside Elementary School, 1053 E Rock Springs Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
9:20 a.m.—10:20 a.m. The Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307
10:35 a.m.—11:45 a.m. Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, 688 Grant St SE, Atlanta, GA 30315
12:00 p.m.—3:30 p.m. Georgia Institute of Technology, North Ave. Atlanta, GA 30332
All are welcome to join the tour. Past participants have included federal, state and local agency officials and elected officers, such as governors, state legislators, mayors and city council members. Members of the press are also invited to attend and amplify honorees’ promising efforts, many of which leverage free resources that are available to all interested parties. Moreover, neighboring schools, districts and colleges and universities are invited to come and learn from the examples on the tour.
This year we’ll be focusing on how schools are teaching effective environmental education, stewardship and civic values through learning outside school walls, using experience to breathe life into standards, in addition to making positive contributions to our communities and planet.
Visitors will see how innovative outdoor learning in its many forms — from school gardens, to field studies, to citizen science and forest schools — provides opportunities to expand traditional learning into the real world to create real change for the betterment of our society and the environment.
I look forward to meeting many representatives who are just beginning their green schools journey and to celebrating the school communities that we have already honored with our award. With a little elbow-grease, strong partnerships, resourcefulness and leadership, I’m confident that I’ll have the opportunity to read about visitors in a coming awards cycle of ED-GRS.
Come prepared to get a little dirty with us while learning outdoors!
Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and Facilities, Health, and Environment Liaison at the U.S. Department of Education.