Innovative Independent School Environmental Leadership

Top administrators from independent schools across the Chesapeake watershed gathered together this summer at our Port Isobel Island Environmental Education Center near Tangier Island, Virginia, to collaborate, learn, and be inspired. They discussed the all-important question: How can independent school leaders most effectively support the integration of high-impact environmental education within their schools?

JPF_4755Forged by a partnership between CBF and The Gunston School, this cutting-edge conference provided a diverse group of independent school leaders the opportunity to strategize, investigate, and reflect on how to start their 2016-2017 school years putting their best "green" foot forward! 

The central themes of this conference included: ecological consciousness, hands-on field experience, environmental education theory and pedagogy, integration of sustainability into school missions and philosophies, visioning, leadership, change management, and action planning through the identification of key goals.  The importance of facilitating outdoor, inquiry-based field investigations for students became abundantly clear as the group discussed current environmental issues that will require solution-based "systems thinking" learning. These school leaders sailed away understanding the value of environmental-based learning and its ability to build in students the skills needed to understand complex issues, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information, and ultimately, make responsible, informed decisions as 21st century citizens. 

JPF_6111The conference offered new ideas for effectively implementing environmental literacy objectives into curriculum, an expert network of support moving forward, and a wide array of tools to empower teachers to integrate environmental sustainability
learning into the classroom. This integration instills meaningful connections between students, their local communities, and the real world challenges facing society as a whole. 

"This was one of the best conferences I have ever attended. I learned so much and came back professionally and personally reinvigorated about environmental sustainability," says Alice Drayton of the Naval Academy Primary School.  


�Text by John Lewis and Megan Fink; Photos by Jay Fleming

To learn more about the conference contact Tom Ackerman, CBF's Vice President for Education, at, John Lewis, The Gunston School's Headmaster, at, or Emily Beck, The Gunston School's Sustainability Coordinator, at

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