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Educating for Sustainability at Rossman School

By: Upper School Science Teacher Julie LaConte

October 11, 2018

When you hear the word sustainable, what comes to mind? Recycling? Composting? “Going green”? Rossman’s Upper School students began the school year by learning that this word means a whole lot more than that! After several activities in science class, they’ve started to develop a much deeper understanding of the concept. Our staff has also been discussing the meaning of sustainability and how we can more fully incorporate the process of educating for sustainability at Rossman School.

The accepted definition of sustainability is “when the environmental, economic, and social needs of a society are met in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Our sixth graders wrote their own personal definitions of sustainability. As one sixth grader wrote, “sustainability is when we’re able to support ourselves for a long time but also be accountable for the things that happen in the future.”  

Our students have come to realize that the concept of sustainability is intertwined with our Rossman Rules. They pointed out that sustainability is a form of kindness and respect for each other and the world around us. As we started to look at our practices here at Rossman, the students were proud to see that we’ve already made strides toward being a sustainable community. They pointed out our drinking fountain refill stations, our reusable trays at lunch, and even our technology agreements as ways that we work here at Rossman to make wise use of our resources to sustain them for future generations. The students have also started to notice ways that we can work towards integrating sustainability more fully into our daily lives.

Our sixth graders are in the process of developing a project that they can implement before graduation. In their time here, they have come to appreciate the amazing resources and opportunities that they’ve had and they’re investigating ways that they can contribute to the Rossman community in a sustainable way, leaving a legacy for future Rossman students.

Our fifth grade students are working to be good stewards of our Rossman watershed. As they study water concepts in science, they’re monitoring the health of our creek ecosystem, examining the ways water is used at Rossman and how it flows aways from us after it’s used. They recently partnered with volunteers from the Earthways Center to clean and mark 23 storm drains on our property. These marked drains now serve as reminders for the general public to refrain from dumping in storm drains that are connected to our natural waterways.

Our fourth graders are participating in the Green Schools Quest program with an ambitious project stemming from our study of plants. The fourth grade project, titled “Growing Greener,” has the goal of using the Drosten Greenhouse at Rossman to grow plants that can be used to provide food for our Rossman community.

Teachers and staff members across the building are incorporating the “Big Ideas of Sustainability” in their daily work. Some of these themes like fairness and equity, interdependence, and community building can be integrated in all areas of academic and social culture here at Rossman. As we move forward in our process of educating for sustainability, we hope you’ll notice some of the positive effects our students are having on our Rossman community as well as their desire to affect change and make a difference on a larger scale. We are learning so many different ways to take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of our place, which is an invaluable lesson for us all!

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Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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