Schools Earn Environmental Awards

Switlik Elementary School teacher Anthony Luell, left, joins Principal Kathleen McKiernan, Asst. Principal Renee Pagano-Hein and teacher Brian Morgan in accepting the Silver Certification Recognition from Sustainable Jersey for Schools. (Photo Provided By The Jackson School District)

JACKSON – All 10 of the Jackson School District’s schools have now achieved sustainability certification, which shows that environmental education is part of their lessons.

  For the second year in a row, a Jackson school has earned the top award from the statewide organization Sustainable Jersey for Schools. That non-profit organization is dedicated to promoting programs and efforts to create a more sustainable school and world.

  This award recognizes one elementary, one middle and one high school for earning the most points in their category and for “significant sustainability achievements.’’

  The Christa McAuliffe Middle School was recently presented with the Sustainability Champion Award at the New Jersey School Boards Association workshop by representatives of Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

  McAuliffe Middle School Principal Debra Phillips said the school’s staff was “honored to have earned this award because it recognizes the power of working together for the common good.’’

  “Our entire school community takes great pride in finding new and creative ways we can live responsibly and take care of our planet, and each other,” Phillips said.

  The district’s Board of Education and members of its administration were also pleased to learn that in addition to the statewide award for McAuliffe, the Switlik Elementary School earned Silver Certification in the program, joining Jackson Liberty High School and Elms Elementary School as Silver Certified Schools.

  All other Jackson schools have earned at least Bronze Level Certification in this program. Jackson Liberty High School earned the same Sustainability Champion award last year.

  “There are only 15 schools in the county that have earned either bronze or silver certification, and 10 of them are right here in Jackson,’’ School Superintendent Stephen Genco said. “This is not by chance. This is because we have created a culture that values education and action when it comes to living responsibly.’’

  Genco said he is incredibly proud of the ways the board, staff and students work together to find creative and meaningful ways to promote sustainability. The Board of Education will soon be hearing its annual energy savings assessment.

  The district’s efforts include “Green Teams” in all schools to spread awareness and design opportunities to promote conservation and sustainability, re-vamped recycling programs, water bottle filling stations, campus clean-up projects, a district-wide energy saving competition, celebrating World Water Day and participating in recycling programs with the Township and other entities.

  Jackson’s School District also has several solar panel projects online to generate clean energy and is pursuing additional solar projects in the future.

  “I commend the teachers, administrators, staff, parents and students for their hard work and dedication – it’s truly paying off,” Randall Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey, said.

  Solomon added, “the 2019 schools that have achieved Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification are leading the way to a more sustainable New Jersey. I’ve seen time and again, when schools and our young people are given direction and support, they’re powerful catalysts for change. Becoming certified with Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a significant achievement.”

  To date, 336 school districts and 872 schools are participating in the program. Sustainable Jersey for Schools has awarded over $1.8 million in grants to schools and school districts. In 2019, Sustainable Jersey is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a year-long campaign that will include special events to educate and engage the Sustainable Jersey community and create a vision for the future.