In the world we live in today- the one where oil spills and landfills are commonplace, and fast-food dominates- it’s a breath of fresh air to know a person who is concerned and determined to make schools (and the people who populate them) responsible for improving our environment. Mr. Dimitri Snowden and his Green360 curriculum has conjured up a way to instill environmental respect and appreciation at an early age, which I strongly believe can only prove beneficial for all stakeholders, but perhaps more importantly, for future generations.
Green360 boasts a promising curriculum for all students, regardless of age. It teaches them the importance of taking care of our planet, with a hands-on, and practical approach. Thinking back to my own days in grade school, I remember how far-fetched and threatening it seemed for me as a child to simply recycle. There weren’t accessible recycling bins, and to care for our earth seemed like more of a hassle than a remedy. After all, where would I get the tools to live a green lifestyle if nothing around me supported the movement? Green360 has taken the intimidation out of protecting the earth, and gives the students the tools they need to make a difference. From compost bins and a paper-recycling program to rechargeable batteries, Green360 turns the students into knowledgeable teachers!
With Green360, the mystery of our role in environmental sustainability is removed. It makes it so that students can learn easy and meaningful ways to be “green”, regardless of what is happening around them. Paramount School of Excellence (PSoE) is a prime example of Green360 in action. When you first arrive on location, you are swept off your feet by five 40-foot tall wind turbines! In a city like Indianapolis, wind turbines stand out on their own, making passersby curious as to what goes on inside this school building. The 2500-watt turbines push electricity back to the city’s electric company (IPL)! Now of course, in this case students don’t have to do anything directly to claim environmental responsibility, but they are able to witness first-hand the benefits of wind power, and how it all works!
Additionally, PSoE has a garden (Give Forward Garden), a pond (Paramount Pond) and green room (Green360 Room). Each entity has been created to give students a chance to learn about, manage, and appreciate the life cycles of plants and animals, regardless of their city or neighborhood’s typical landscape. The Give Forward Garden will influence nutritional well-being, and even core values such as patience! How does this work one might ask? Simple. Each grade level will have their own plot of land to cultivate fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. The students will be responsible for caring (and waiting) for the produce to grow!
The Green360 Room is a unique part of the building that is home to three species of butterflies, lizards, tree frogs, insects, and a tortoise just to name a few, as well as live plants and trees. An interesting aspect of the room is the fact that the animals and insects (except the free flying butterflies) will be housed in cleverly stocked terrariums! What is a terrarium? A terrarium is a sealed but transparent container that allows the insects and animals to be seen but not touched! Very clever! The Green360 room itself has at 30×15 glass wall that lets in an abundant amount of filtered sunlight, and probably the most impressive in terms of respecting the environment is the 4,000 lbs of recycled rubber on the floor made to resemble grass, dirt, and mulch. What most of us visitors wouldn’t know (but any PSoE student can tell you) is that the use of this recycled rubber has actually kept 200 tires from ending up in a landfill!
Now I don’t know about you, but when I think about the condition our world is in at this very moment, I cringe. It scares me to think what we as humans have done to contaminate the waters, mutilate the land, and scar the planet forever. But I firmly believe there is hope. Even if we can’t reverse the damage already done, we can definitely work to make sure we leave this place better than we found it. And that is what Green360 is doing; providing the much needed hope to inspire compassion for the world we live in, and to cultivate the next generation of responsible, environmental stewards! I find it comforting to know that the students that benefit from Green360 will be the leaders of tomorrow. They are learning so much about the environment, which can only mean that they have much to teach us. Parents, community members, and other school communities across this nation can learn a thing or two from the students at PSoE. My hope is that Mr. Snowden continues to spread the power and inspiration of the Green360 curriculum, and that one day, it serves as a model for the reformation of our public school systems, here and abroad!