Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes
Sustainability: the shared responsibility for improving the quality of life for all – economically, socially, and environmentally, - now and for future generations
The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes, a collaborative partnership of educators, families and the community, integrates the big ideas of sustainability into the curriculum and campus practices.
The goal of the Academy is to prepare students to be responsible citizens and agents for change, in their community and beyond. The Academy is an international model for using sustainability as a lens for place-based education and service learning. We maintain the highest expectations for academic and personal growth for all of our students and embrace the rich economic and cultural diversity of our community.
The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes will employ the methods and pedagogy of Education for Sustainability (EFS) - learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet. The Burlington School District will build upon its partnership with Shelburne Farms, a national leader in sustainability education, to bring the sustainability magnet school to life. Shelburne Farms has worked with the BSD for the past eight years to pilot the Sustainable Schools Project in two elementary schools and has provided professional development to 90% of our elementary teachers.
Shelburne Farms’ project in sustainability at the Academy has resulted in a palpable sense of community that emanates beyond the school walls. Reports from an independent evaluation team conclude that the sustainability work has improved student engagement (especially for students with special needs), increased community engagement in schools, and presented new opportunities for family involvement.
For the past four years, sustainability has been integrated into the curriculum, campus practices and culture at Lawrence Barnes Elementary. Teachers have reported that they have increased their use of the local environment/community for teaching and learning and that their students are more motivated to learn because they are engaged and invested in their community. The sustainability magnet will be a first-of-its-kind and will serve as a model for the state of Vermont and beyond.
Shelburne Farms’ work in sustainability has attracted the attention of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL) and its education partnership, and their work in sustainability at Barnes was featured in a recent weeklong conference with Peter Senge. Through this international network of top business executives and education leaders, we will be able to publicize the lessons learned and successes of this sustainability magnet school. Shelburne Farms will help to expand upon and facilitate additional community partnerships with local and national organizations to ensure constant innovation and improvement in the fields of sustainability and education at Barnes.