“As we start to move into these sustainable practices, we see our children becoming more invested as they do hands-on gardening and hands-on experiences like counting oysters, but also they are mentally engaged and looking forward as they are trying to problem-solve for the future.”

Amy Goods
MS 447 Math & Science Preparatory School
Brooklyn, NY

  • Whole District Change: Warwick Valley Central School District 
  • CELF Supports the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Sustainability Initiative 
  • Whole District Change: Putnam Valley Central School District 
  • Leadership Training in Sustainability Curriculum: New York City Department of Education

Whole District Change: Warwick Valley Central School District

CELF Prides Its Work in Sustainability Professional Development for Teachers and Administrators at Warwick Valley Central School District, a 2018 Green Ribbon Award winner.

WVCSD selected CELF as their professional development partner for the district’s EPA grant project, “Envirocation.” In addition to significant facility and operations energy upgrades, the project included goals to integrate environmental instruction and sustainability into the curriculum leading to those ideas and practices becoming part of the campus culture.

Over a period of 18 months, CELF worked with a core team of teachers and administrators, sharing Education for Sustainability (EfS) concepts as well as techniques for using EfS as an integrating context for student learning and community action. CELF provided onsite support throughout the 2015 and 2016 school years, as well as a three–day Summer Institute for teachers from the high school, middle school, and two elementary schools.

Project Outcomes Included:

  • Increased student environmental literacy: (a) greater awareness and knowledge of environmental issues; (b) enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills; (c) acting as environmental stewards.
  • Increased capacity of Warwick Valley Central School District teachers to integrate environmental education units into course content
  • Integration of environmentally-based cross-curricular units at all grade levels with a focus on alternative and renewable energy - solar in particular – woven into the Warwick curriculum.

CELF Supports the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Sustainability Initiative

The CELF-LAUSD Educating for Sustainability (EfS) program has produced impressive results towards achieving the LAUSD Strategic Goals and Sustainability Initiative Goals, the California Department of Education Environmental Literacy Blueprint, Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards, and CELF program goals. A recent impact survey demonstrates progress towards LAUSD’s goal of becoming the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly large urban school district in the country.

Finally, the program supports California’s Environmental Literacy Blueprint, which aims to teach every California student in, about and for the environment, fully integrating environmental literacy into science, social science, and language arts.

Most important of all, teachers report that the program is having a real impact on students and their commitment and ability to create positive change. Here are some of the teachers’ comments on this topic:

  • “[It has been very meaningful to me to watch] the students take initiative and [see] their sincere desire to plan programs and projects to help our school and the environment.”
  • “Having been given the tools to start to talk about sustainability on our campus through CELF has ignited my students to action. I can't help but continue on this trajectory to help the students realize their goals of making their world a better place.”
  • “Participating in the CELF project has empowered my students to be problem solvers and to not only think about themselves but think about the environment and others. They have become more empathetic and compassionate while they learn and solve real-world problems. And that is not an easy task to accomplish.”
  • “Place-based learning has had the greatest impact, as it has engaged and invigorated our students to work for change and to care about sustainability issues.”

Three middle schools participate in LAUSD’s three-year pilot program. The three schools have sent a combined total of 12 teachers and two principals to CELF’s Summer Institute. After participation in the Institute, CELF supports the teachers through additional local training, project and curriculum planning support, and regular update meetings. As participants gain experience and expertise, they in turn provide training to other teachers at their schools and share their knowledge through professional workshops, LAUSD events, and social media.

As interest in the program has spread within the schools, sustainability teams have grown to include a total of 23 teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other professional staff members. Each school has a Sustainability Coordinator who shares with colleagues knowledge and skills gained from the Institute, coordinates with school administration, and shares their school’s sustainability accomplishments to the education community.

Read the CELF LAUSD Status Report HERE

Whole District Change: Putnam Valley Central School District 

Inspired and led by Superintendent Dr. Fran Wills’ vision of an environmental literacy legacy for the district, Putnam Valley CSD has taken significant steps to develop a culture of sustainability across its campus and throughout its curricula.

Through an extensive Energy Performance Contract with Con Edison Solutions, PVCSD is committed to reducing the energy consumption of its physical plant. The district engaged CELF to help teachers identify and create student learning opportunities connected to its campus sustainability initiatives as well as natural space assets.

In order to meet this overarching goal, CELF developed a professional development plan for a core group of PVCSD faculty. CELF educators have trained these teachers about Education for Sustainability (EfS) principles and pedagogy and provided curriculum and project design support to create a systemic approach to building environmental literacy through problem/project/place-based learning.

 CELF’s work with PVCSD engages all school community stakeholders: teachers, administrators, facility managers, students, parents and the school board.

Watch CELF’s presentation to the PVCSD School Board

Leadership Training in Sustainability Curriculum: New York City Department of Education

Recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative 

As a commitment to action project, CELF applied this turn-key model in working with thirty New York City Public Schools over a three-year period.

To kick off the program, teacher teams from participating schools took part in an intensive three-day professional development program for sustainability education integration. During the workshop, participants received:

  • Training and curriculum development expertise demonstrating how EfS supports educational goals and enhances efforts in STEM subjects.
  • Assistance with curriculum development that supports individual school goals, inspired by the principles of Education for Sustainability and consistent with the new Common Core state standards.
  • Strategies to connect EfS principles to each participant’s subject area and grade level and to map concepts across the curriculum.
  • Best practices in EfS student assessment based on the CELF student performance indicators rubric and the NAAEE Framework for Environmental Literacy.

After completing the workshop, teacher teams worked with CELF project leaders to set goals for how they planned to incorporate sustainability into their curriculum and communities. CELF leaders followed up with site visits providing support and guidance throughout the academic year. During the program’s second year, new schools were paired with mentor schools that had succeeded in year one.

Using an EfS framework, students became active stakeholders in local environmental, social and economic justice service-learning projects. See a Sampling of Projects presented at the culminating Sustainability Fair event. In addition to the projects that each school implemented, an independent evaluator from the Harvard Graduate School of Education measured significant teacher gains in the following areas:

  • Participating teachers came away with higher understanding of EfS content knowledge and made significant gains in three essential EfS teaching areas: use of community and place in lesson plans, engaging in systems thinking and in teaching about specific sustainability issues.
  • Teachers also had a measurable increase in their use of STEM activities and place-based learning to teach the Big Ideas of Sustainability.

CELF continues to train NYC teachers by offering professional development programs through the DOE.