HARTFORD, Conn. — Given its lauded interest in all things environmental, Connecticut’s state motto seems rather prescient: “Qui transtulit sustinet,” or “He who transplanted sustains.” Sure, the state’s founders were probably working with a different definition of “sustains” (a contemporary reading of the motto could be “Move to Connecticut — if you wanna live!”), but it worked then, and it certainly works now thanks to the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program.
Created by a long roster of the state’s various Hartford-based departments (the Connecticut Departments of Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, Administrative Services and Public Health among them), Connecticut Green LEAF helps schools to grow greener. Of course, a state agency can’t forgo any opportunity for a cute acronym — hence, LEAF stands for “Leading, Educating, Achieving and Fostering green, healthy schools for all.” The program also works with more than 35 environmental and educational partners focused on three principal goals: to provide effective environmental and sustainability education, improve the health and wellness of students and staff, and reduce environmental impact and cost.
“Implementation starts with a letter of commitment from the school administration. The school then can complete a self-assessment of their ‘green’ activities and goals. Schools receive support in meeting their goals, including webinars, lessons and professional development,” reported the Orange Town News, a news service that serves the community of the Amity Regional School District No. 5 where three schools have already signed up for the program.
Other districts that have joined include West Hartford, Stamford, Guilford, Wolcott, Windsor Locks, Wilton and Westport, representing a total of 130 participating schools.
Schools that participate in the program can be eligible for nomination for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon honor. At present writing, 13 schools and one district across Connecticut have earned the federal Green Ribbon recognition, though all participating schools are recognized for their accomplishments.
As explained on the Eastern Connecticut State University Institute for Sustainable Energy site, “This recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates and workforce preparedness as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.”
Open to both public and private schools, Connecticut Green LEAF Schools is free and available for all K-12 learning institutions. For more information, visit www.ctgreenleaf.org.