The Caesar Rodney School District was honored with a 2019 Green Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently announced the winners. Across the country, 35 schools and four postsecondary institutions also were honored for their innovative efforts to address the three “pillars” of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness and ensuring effective sustainability education.

“I am extremely proud and appreciative of all the work that was done to help us earn this award. This achievement is the result of sustained commitment. These aren’t changes you make overnight, and our work isn’t over. We will continue to seek more ways to reduce our district’s environmental impact, improve the health and wellness of our Rider community and provide our students with an exemplary education around the environment and sustainability. Our students and their teachers under the guidance of Mr. Klawinski made this happen, and I congratulate them for this prestigious honor,” said Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald.

W. Reily Brown Elementary also was recognized as a state finalist by the Delaware Department of Education.

Gov. John Carney will honor the school and district — along with Delaware’s other state winner, the private Jefferson School in Georgetown — during a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. May 29 at W. Reily Brown Elementary School, 360 Webbs Lane, Dover.

Caesar Rodney was recognized because of its ongoing work in the area. For example, each of the 12 schools in the district has its own student-led EcoTeam, giving students from pre-K to 12th grade “an outlet to share and work out their ideas for Delaware green schools and to collaborate with each other.” Students have led reforms, such as the “share tables” started in some cafeterias. Children place unopened, unwanted items on the table for others in an effort to reduce food waste.

Postlethwait Middle School, Frear Elementary School and Charlton School comprise “the EcoCampus at CRSD,” which is evolving into “a district hub for green schools initiatives, teacher professional development and student field experiences.” Teachers across the district are provided resources to “facilitate installation or renovation of outdoor classrooms, community gardens and compost centers on their campuses.” Rain gardens to manage stormwater also were added.

Community partnerships with environmental groups and government agencies have provided additional opportunities for educational experiences for students and resources to support environmental education and facility improvements. The district also has worked to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of its facilities.

“The Caesar Rodney School District and the Jefferson School exemplify how our schools can reduce their environmental impact, save resources, improve the health and wellness of their communities and provide students with hands-on, engaging learning,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting. “This national recognition is well deserved.”

Tonyea Mead, the state’s Green Ribbon program coordinator and science education associate at the Delaware Department of Education, praised Caesar Rodney’s educators and leadership for their work and commitment that contributed to the honor.

“Teachers play a key role in selecting phenomena for investigation and design that engage the students and at the same time lead to learning of important science and engineering ideas and concepts. The Green Ribbon Schools Program supports students to investigate real-world problems right in their school and/or in their school grounds. This creates a culture of student thinkers and problem solvers that will prepare them to be college and career ready,” said Mead.

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