On Monday, November 20, 2006, the first planning meeting was held for the creation of the Elementary School for Sustainable Design. Clicking on the school name, above will bring up the powerpoint that was the starting point for the conversation.
At this planning session were school design representatives from the private sector, from Philadelphia University, and from school design organizations such as the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and the American Institute of Architects. The Elementary School for Sustainable design will be a k-8 school associated with a Philadelphia higher educational institution and will use Project Based Service Learning as the primary (but not exclusive) pedagogical foundation. The minutes are recorded as a series of open ended questions with relevant comments, below. This blog entry is designed to serve the participants as an online open forum for which to continue our discussion.
Here are the minutes of the meeting:
The Elementary School for Sustainable Design
Minutes of November 20, 2006 Meeting
Question: As a parent, what would hook you on to the School of Sustainability and why?
Comment: Parents would want to be involved with a school with integrated projects and very little behavior problems.
Question: Where would the kids come from?
Comment: Real demographic mix from all over Philadelphia and some suburban locations allowing for great diversity.
Comment: The attraction to a school of this kind is “how the teachers teach vs. what they teach.” More one-on-one attention; socialization skills improve as a result. In a specific example, the architect and teacher worked together to show how every activity relates to assessment anchors and were never doubted from this time forward.
Comment: In a school of this nature, teaching is a “way of life.” It is a culture and mindset for sustainability.
Comment: Elaboration on Laboratory schools being examples of best practices. Some models are now out in Shippensburg and now in Florida.
Comment: The commitment of Philadelphia U. to a charter of K – 12 is unclear at this time. There is definitely a service role to Philly U. but not for a direct connection to education.
Comment: Rather than a connection to teaching, this school would benefit by having a connection to Philly U. to focus on a new curriculum, one that is green. A connection where the reality of sustainability is driving the education is what is preferred.
Question: Should this idea be shifted to take example from Germantown Academy and their starting of a public school?
Question: Clarity on the enrollment and application process was requested.
Conversation continued around the existing K-8 Waldorf Schools, integration of athletics.
Question: How does one raise up the educational opportunities for inner city children?
Question: “Do you need a building?”
Comment: “Yes, Please.” Ideally, a synergistic relationship and collaboration to make this happen with a higher educational institution is what is wanted.
Comment: Students are an unpolished or uncut collection of gemstones. A school of this nature is what is needed in industrial towns that have lost their luster.
Comment: Project Based Learning has the ability to change lives.
Question: Should a conversation be started with Julie from Wissahickon Charter?
Question: Should the idea of corporate sponsorship be explored?
Question: What is the next step? What does Philadelphia U. want to see?
Comment: A model and design of the school in a proposal format. Specifics on scale of the school including: pedagogy, how many students, how many teachers, business plan and cost breakdown, ideas on building.
Comment: Funders are bound to ask how much we want. We need to be prepared with a figure. Does it matter if the school is charter or not? Physical placement cannot be on Phila U. campus but can be nearby. Mention of the Sicilian Center for the Arts was made. A comment to the possibility of a Mt. Airy Sustainability Center
Question: What would be the higher benefits of Philly U. being involved?
Comment: Definitely OUTREACH on Science Education. With the timing of Tom and Rob’s programs, there are definite possibilities. The benefits would probably be more PR in nature than anything.
Comment: Trying to explain sustainability to an 18 year old is very difficult. Philly U. connection to a school can fill the bridge to an undergraduate program. Part of the goal of this school is to provide a CULTURE CHANGE to help our children today.
Comment: Maybe “Sustainability” is too large. Consider critical thinking through sustainability.
Deadline for PROJECT PROPOSAL: End of the year.