Federal and State Education Officials Celebrate UNCW, DC Virgo and Wrightsville Beach Elementary for Green Initiatives


Friday, October 22, 2021

Federal and state education officials visited UNCW, DC Virgo Preparatory Academy and Wrightsville Beach Elementary School as part of a three-day Green Strides tour celebrating this year’s Green Ribbon winners .

Representatives from the US Department of Education, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and other dignitaries observed green initiatives in schools on October 21. The Green Strides tour stopped in North Carolina for the first time, visiting schools in Wilmington, Fayetteville and Raleigh.

The US Department of Education recognized UNCW, DC Virgo, and Wrightsville Beach Elementary School for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact, reduce utility costs, improve health and well-being. and provide effective sustainability education. A total of 40 institutions or school districts across the country have been honored as Green Ribbon Schools.

UNCW is one of five colleges and universities nationwide named in 2021 by the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Post Secondary Sustainability Award. The Green Ribbon Recognition is a unique honor designed to showcase institutions that employ practices and resources that other schools may adopt.

“The Green Strides Tour aims to highlight the value of equitable access to healthy, sustainable and resilient 21st century learning environments and real-world sustainability learning,” said Andrea Suarez Falken, Director of US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. “We are honored to have the opportunity to see first-hand the work of the winners of the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools in North Carolina – to observe their hands-on environmental learning and school buildings. effective and healthy. and walking around their green schoolyards, making learning alive for students. “

DC Virgo, a year-round K-8 school run by UNCW’s Watson College of Education, and Wrightsville Beach Elementary are among the US Department of Education’s 27 Green Ribbon schools this year. Wrightsville Beach Elementary has a partnership with the university.

“We could not be more proud of the work the students, staff and faculty of DC Virgo have done to earn this Green Ribbon Schools award,” said Van Dempsey, Dean of Watson College of Education. “Leadership, teacher practices and local student learning are the foundations of DC Virgo’s success in cultivating sustainability, healthy spaces and well-being reflected in this award. And the collaboration between the people of Virgo, UNCW and the community has been exceptional. “

DC Virgo’s efforts include a school-wide, student-led recycling program, gardening projects, energy efficient lights, sustainability presentations, and projects with UNCW. Mid-level teachers have partnered with UNCW’s MarineQuest program to develop curricula focusing on ecology, meteorology and biotechnology through the contextual lens of marine science.

“I am extremely proud of the commitment of our faculty, staff, students and partners to their leadership and shared opportunities for collective and authentic learning,” said DC Virgo Director Sabrina Hill- Black.

UNCW and DC Virgo encompass the theme of this year’s tour, “Green Progress for All: Advancing Sustainable Schools,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said.

“DC Virgo’s focus on interdisciplinary STEM education, sustainability, and environmental literacy exposes younger students to full and comprehensive experiences for the child,” said Truitt. “The students were very engaged and showed incredible leadership as tour guides, teaching us their science program and answering questions.”

Truitt was impressed with the work of UNCW students, staff, faculty and administrators on campus-wide stormwater, recycling and composting projects.

“Not only is the Watson College of Education at UNCW remarkable, but the campus at UNCW is impressive on another front, as it strives to integrate sustainable initiatives focused on the whole student experience. “said Truitt. “The applied science opportunities here also allow students to gain hands-on experience that can be translated into a lifelong career or used to become a more engaged citizen.”

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UNCW sustainability peer educators and Chancellor Jose Sartarelli hold a Post-Secondary Sustainability Award from the US Department of Education recognizing the university as a Green Ribbon School. Also pictured are Andrea Suarez Falken, Director of Green Ribbon Schools at the United States Department of Education, Kat Pohlman, Sustainability Officer at UNCW, and Roger Shew, Lecturer in Earth and Earth Sciences ‘ocean.

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt examines a pearl mushroom specimen that DC Virgo student India Williams is holding during her mycology lab.

DC Virgo student India Williams holds a pearl mushroom while State Superintendent Catherine Truitt examines the specimen on the Green Strides tour.


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