Common Ground students and staff receive Connecticut Green LEAF School Award at the Mary Hooker School in Hartford.

Looking for our blog post on how Common Ground “teaches to the test”? Click here.

Last week, Common Ground and two other Connecticut public schools were recognized as the state’s first three Connecticut Green LEAF Schools. On hand to present the award were state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty, and Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen. Read a press release.

The Green LEAF School Program was created as Connecticut’s process for nominating schools for the Federal Green Ribbon School program — and to encourage the state’s schools to step up as environmental leaders. Learn more about the program.

Here’s what Common Ground’s Executive Director Melissa Spears said upon receiving the award:

At Common Ground, Sustainability and environmental leadership are in our DNA. We were opened in 1997 as the first environmental charter school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of environmentally themed schools across the country. This really is a growing movement, and we’re committed to helping it grow, here in Connecticut and across the country.
We see our environmental mission as inextricably connected with our core academic work. As part of their classes, our students have helped design a new green school building, coming to our campus in 2013. They do climate research in the Dominican Republic, intern with the Nature Conservancy, and take on green jobs across the city. When students tackle real environmental issues, do real work for a public purpose, they do their best work.
The proof is in the numbers. Last year, 97% of our grads were accepted to college. Our 4-year graduation rate is 10 points above the state average. The percent of our students earning proficient scores has literally doubled in every subject area over the last 5 years.
We know we still have lots of work to do. The Green LEAF schools process has pushed us to see our blind spots, to reaffirm and strengthen our environmental commitment.
We’re so happy to have strong partners in Connecticut, who share our commitment to green, healthy, sustainable schools. Barnard and Mary Hooker are both outstanding schools. To have the governor and commissioners standing up together on this issue is so important. We are ready to keep this movement growing.