RHIC first began connecting John Eager Howard students and families with neighborhood projects in 2008 with school-wide tree plantings. The enthusiasm around these projects inspired staff to form a Green Team and students to join RHIC’s Green Keepers after school club.
Over the past 3 years, the John Eager Howard School Family and the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council have worked as a team to develop environmental stewardship in the school and across the community. JEH students and staff are now not only planting trees but also thinking strategically about what it means to be conscious of their local and global environments. Ultimately, these many projects, plantings, and conversations contributed to a two-year application for Maryland Green School Certification. On April 30th, 2013 the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) notified JEH that it had officially received certification as a Maryland Green School.
Students, staff, and community partners have worked as a team to accomplish projects ranging from:
- Green Thumb Day– Each year the entire student body participates in planting and maintaining the school’s many green spaces: raised vegetable beds, native gardens, pollinator gardens, a rooftop herb garden, and a rain garden. These areas are now used to facilitate meaningful, hands on, environmental education.
- Green Keepers – Through this after school environmental science club students have designed and built a functioning wind turbine, painted storm drains, choreographed/written original performances. These students are leaders throughout the school and are growing to be strong stewards for the environment.
- Recycling/Compost – Through the consistent hard work of the JEH Green Team, since 2010 the school has recycled TONS of paper each year. Not only is the school conscious of keeping classroom waste out of landfills, but also cafeteria waste. Through a partnership with Whitelock Community Farm, the students have composted lunch left-overs, each week helping to replenish nutrients in the neighborhood’s soil.
- Asphalt Removal – In partnership with Blue Water Baltimore (BWB), JEH removed asphalt from behind the school and planted a rain garden. BWB also helped the school remove asphalt from the interior courtyard in order to make room for native gardens in the school’s Outdoor Classroom.
- Community Partnerships – MAEOE certification requires schools to implement projects from 4 of the following 7 categories: water pollution prevent, energy conservation, solid waste reduction, natural habitat restoration, building structures for learning, responsible transportation, healthy school environment. In the past three years, JEH went above and beyond the minimum requirements for Green School Certification by integrating aspects of each category into the classroom and school culture. This was possible because of the strong support of these partner organizations: Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, DRU Judy Center, Child First Authority, Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore Energy Challenge, Whitelock Community Farm, Chesapeake Bay Trust/Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Baltimore Office of Sustainability, Friends School Baltimore, Parks & People Foundation, Beth Am Synagogue, MICA, Chesapeake Center for Youth Development, Baltimore City Master Gardeners, Cabrera Services, Baltimore Green Map, Maryland Environmental Health Network.
Studies show that Green School certification not only contributes to the health of students and the environment, but also to improved academic achievement. Maryland Green School students have higher reading achievement in fifth grade; higher reading achievement in eighth grade; and higher mathematics achievement in eighth grade based on MSA reading and mathematics scores.