AAPS celebrates Earth Day 2022

An update on environmental sustainability efforts is scheduled as an information item at the regular meeting of the Board on April 27

In a message to the AAPS community today, Superintendent Jeanice Swift says:

The Ann Arbor Public Schools, with a long-standing commitment to the environment, is celebrating Earth Day 2022. Each year on April 22, we mark the anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970 as the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world. More than a billion people every year celebrate today as a day of action to change human behavior and create better global, national and local policies to protect our health and our environment.

In classrooms across the AAPS, Earth Day is observed, today and throughout the school year, as students, their teachers and school teams learn, explore and celebrate a shared commitment to environmental sustainability. 

The Ann Arbor Public Schools, under the leadership of the Board of Education, Superintendent and AAPS team, and with the support and partnership of the Ann Arbor Public Schools community, continues the implementation of action steps to live an organizational commitment to environmental sustainability in alignment with the Environmental Sustainability Policy (8000), approved in 2018, which states:

•Climate change is real, increasing and caused by human activity,

•The Ann Arbor community is committed to practices that support a healthy environment for present and future generations,

•The AAPS district has a responsibility to help prepare current and future generations to respond to climate change through the reduction of harmful human activities, the promotion of human activities that restore the environment, and the development of strategies to adapt to climate change

In the Ann Arbor Public Schools, progress to forward environmental sustainability practice can be seen in the three key areas: 

1) a commitment to the critical mission of robust environmental education, demonstrated in strong environmental teaching, learning, and exploration across classrooms for all students, preschool through 12th-grade (P-12), as well as a long-standing, widely acclaimed AAPS Environmental Education Program led by Dave Szczygiel and Coert Ambrosino and supported at the AAPS Freeman Environmental Education Center. 

In the AAPS, we work across the P-12 educational continuum to ensure graduates possess a strong understanding and background, an awareness fostered within a rich environmental education experience to generate a lifelong commitment to environmental sustainability, embodied by graduates in our Ann Arbor community and around the world, 

2) a commitment to live an organizational commitment to environmental sustainability practices, including fulfilling the goals of the Capital Bond Program to renew school campuses over the coming decades, and 

3) the work of the Environmental Sustainability Task Force, whose charge is to “advise the AAPS Board of Education on a formal sustainability plan that will support achieving the goal of environmental sustainability, guide adjustments in operations, and advise on AAPS capital improvement planning, and other district endeavors related to sustainability.”

Next Steps in 2022

The work in support of Environmental Sustainability in the Ann Arbor Public Schools is urgent, and there remains a great deal of work to accomplish in furthering environmental sustainability efforts across our schools and community. The coming months of 2022 promise to be a pivotal time as we realize some critical and exciting next steps in each of the three key areas. 

These next steps include the addition of an Environmental Sustainability Officer, confirmation of a formal Environmental Sustainability plan recommended by the Environmental Sustainability Task Force and finalized and approved by the Board of Education, innovative next steps in organizational environmental practices and continued enhancement of environmental sustainability educational opportunities for students, P-12.  

An April 2022 update on Environmental Sustainability efforts in the AAPS is scheduled as an information item at the Regular Meeting of the Board on April 27, 2022. This presentation will be recorded and shared widely with the AAPS community. 

Together, we will continue to move the AAPS forward in responsibly living an evolving organizational commitment to the environment, with the goal of serving as a model school district in the country. We look forward to continued engagement and partnership with important community environmental leaders, local climate change and sustainability experts and concerned citizens in our collective effort to serve as strong stewards of our planet within our own Ann Arbor community today and for future generations.

Earth Day is the focus of this week’s episode of the A2 Schools Podcastwith a discussion of the Environmental Education Program and the Freeman Environmental Education Center by Dave Szczygiel and Coert Ambrosino, co-facilitators, and hosted by Andrew Cluley. 

To kick off Earth Day Week Neha Shah, Burns Park Elementary School Garden Coordinator and AAPS Farm to School Collaborative Steering Committee Co-Chair, helped host 30-minute sessions over two days so that every Burns Park student enjoyed:

  • A tour of the school garden
  • Learning about the plants that are already growing
  • Go over garden guidelines
  • Planting a seed in a planter to take home and care for

First grade teacher Margaret Goodly’s enthusiasm for plants was obvious as she guided students through the garden.

“I work in the garden so that children learn how important it is to really tend, to plant, take care of the earth, and to really work together to create something; to grow something,” she said. “This is the purpose of the garden: to bring people together sharing and learning about the earth and plants.”

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