PS 69 Journey Prep School in the Bronx Sets Example for School Sustainability Efforts

Local Bronx school earns national recognition for environmental contributions

P.S. 69 Journey Prep School, an elementary school in Bronx, NY, has been selected as a recipient of the Green Flag Award, a national honor given only to top schools who show exceptional leadership, education and action on school and community environmental issues. The distinction was given by Eco-Schools USA, a K-12 school sustainability program of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization.

“Thanks to science teacher Jill Weingarten, who for five years has dedicated herself to educating PS 69’s students about gardening, waste reduction, and energy conservation, the school has proven itself a true leader in environmental education and action,” said Emily Fano, Senior Manager for the NYC Eco-Schools program. “With the support of Principal Sheila Durant, Jill has used the Eco-Schools program framework to engage students in environment-based education and action and has made the school a shining example of what we look for when selecting a Green Flag recipient. We hope other schools will follow in PS 69’s footsteps.”

To be eligible for the prestigious Green Flag award, the highest achievement in the Eco-Schools USA program, schools must complete seven steps that include 1) forming a student green team, 2) conducting an environmental audit, 3) creating an action plan, 4) monitoring and evaluating environmental progress, 5) integrating the issue they addressed into the curriculum, 6) finding ways to involve the entire community, and 7) generating an Eco-Code or green mission statement that is posted throughout the school and sets behavioral expectations for students and staff alike.

Some of the projects that PS 69 students launched to achieve the Green Flag included: creating a plastic bag recycling project, creating musical instruments out of recycled materials, leading an energy reduction challenge, planting trees through MillionTreesNYC, planting a schoolyard habitat for wildlife and pollinators, installing a weather center to monitor weather, temperature and water; and launching a Kindergarten project to encourage gardening and connection to the outdoors for the school’s youngest students.

Ms. Weingarten has integrated environment-based education into the science curriculum by using the garden as an outdoor classroom. Second through fifth graders have learned how to grow food and create a wildlife habitat. They have built two ponds, planted trees, shrubs, grown flowers to encourage pollinators, and learned about decomposition at the outdoor composting station.

"We’re honored to receive the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA Green Flag award for our commitment to educating students about the protection of our environment. Our school community has been working diligently to ensure that we are conserving energy, implementing plans for recycling and developing an environmentally conscientious community.” said P.S. 69 Principal Sheila Durant.

The Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability works in close partnership with Eco-Schools as part of the City’s efforts to increase awareness and active participation in school sustainability initiatives, focused on launching and expanding a variety of programs across the City centered on sustainability, energy conservation and waste reduction in schools.  

“Eco-Schools USA is a valued partner in DOE's efforts to increase awareness and active participation in whole-school sustainability, and this award recognizes PS69X as a school making exemplary strides. Congratulations to the school on this well-deserved award and for its leadership in sustainability!” said Meredith McDermott, Director of the Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability.


Green Flag Event Details:

PS 69’s Principal, Sheila Durant, teacher Jill Weingarten, PS 69 staff, about 150 students in grades K through 5, elected officials, and NWF mascot Ranger Rick will be at the Green Flag event on Monday, May 16, 2016, 9:00am – 11:00am in the school’s auditorium (560 Thieriot Avenue, Bronx, NY 10473). For more information about PS 69X, visit the school’s website.

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