Sustainability at the VSB
Sustainability related activities have been underway within the District for many years. Individual champions, small networks, and school-based groups have come together to implement numerous sustainability actions. In 2018, the Board of trustees approved the District’s first ever Environmental Sustainability Plan. (Download the abbreviated plan here.)
The actions are structured within five theme areas:
- Sustainability in Education
- Green Spaces
- Resource Conservation and Climate Change
- Sustainable Transportation
- Leadership in Sustainability
There is no common definition of what it means to be a ‘sustainable school district.’
The District’s working definition is a school district that address all its activities that directly and indirectly impact the environment. Our most significant opportunity is developing conscientious citizens. We recognize the need for a strong focus on the educational aspects of sustainability – connecting students to the natural world, empowering personal action, and supporting critical thinking in all our learners.
Environmental sustainability frequently draws immediate attention to environmental problems – waste and garbage, water conservation, traffic congestion, and climate change. Exposure to environmental issues may spur some people to action, however, the simple opportunity to spend time in nature is a wider scope for educational opportunities than environmental problems alone. This approach also serves our learners by allowing them to experience, discover, and reflect upon their identities, their place, and their understandings.
A “sustainable school district” must provide exposure to the natural world for its own value – not just where there is impending doom. This appreciation is a seed from which will grow empathy and understanding, and eventually, deeper engagement, awareness, and action.
The plan development highlighted the need to take a strategic and focused approach towards advancing sustainability in the organization. A number of principles guide opportunities in the District:
Leverage education - Activities should support and enrich our students’ education
Follow and support our people - Actions will be guided by student and educator needs and interests
Make our efforts lasting - Efforts will endeavor to create lasting impact through infrastructure changes and program development
“If we want children to flourish we need to give them time to connect with nature and love the Earth before we ask them to save it!” - David Sobel