The Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation



This past Election Day, CELF led an exciting Introduction to Education for Sustainability (EfS) seminar for 57 high school teachers and administrators who were eager to bring systems thinking into their New York City classrooms and schools. Participants hailed from across the five boroughs and a broad range of disciplines, including math, English language arts, earth science, history, graphic arts, physical education, carpentry, electrical systems and Spanish.

CELF has been working closely with New York's United Federation of Teachers and the Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education to bring the course to New York City. Led by four CELF Instructors, the full-day workshop introduced teachers to sustainability concepts, resources and teaching materials. A curriculum-integration session yielded innovative lesson plans for teachers in multiple and diverse subject areas. As part of the Council's ongoing effort to connect New York City schools to vital external resources for enhancing CTE programs, the CELF Education for Sustainability seminar explored the idea of the school building and community as contexts for new concepts; teachers learned to re-frame existing curriculum and teaching techniques through the lens of sustainability.

"Incorporating the Essential Questions relating to our need for a robust economy, social justice and a healthy environment into any lesson plan is the challenge, and produces the ultimate "ah ha!" moment for educators of all stripes and experience," said Katie Ginsberg, Founder and Executive Director of CELF.

Honored guest speakers included Ozgem Ornetkian, NYC DOE Director of Sustainability, and Sterling Roberson, UFT VP CTE and Florence Jackson, UFT Senior Director and advisory council member.

The session culminated in an inspiring tour of the Gold-LEED certified American Cancer Society building and its Hope Lodge facility. The American Cancer Society hosted the seminar and Whole Foods donated lunch. Supporters included the NYC DOE, UFT, CTE Council, American Cancer Society, Whole Foods Market and the Green Schools Alliance.

Urban Assembly School for Green Careers

The second half of CELF's NYC Election Day program provided one-on-one consultation for the faculty of the Harlem-based Urban Assembly School for Green Careers. Four CELF instructors worked with small department groups to create EfS curriculum integration plans in math, English, physical education, history and technology courses.  Previously at the school, sustainability topics were addressed only in science classes.  With CELF's help, UAGC students will now explore sustainability content in all of their classes and become familiar with the interdisciplinary nature of environmental, economic and social issues.  Fostering students' systems thinking skills will better prepare them for the green career and college paths upon which the school's mission is based.

CELF CALCULATING FOOTPRINTS IN SCHOOLS CELF is thrilled to be working with six schools - in NYC and - that are participating in CELF's School Ecological Footprint Program this year. The program is a full-day, hands-on, inquiry based exploration of a school by middle and upper-elementary school students. By studying a school's day-to-day operations, we calculate how much land and water is required to produce the resources that school needs and absorb the waste it creates. More simply, a school's Ecological Footprint measures the school's impact on the environment, and once calculated, is a useful planning tool to reduce that impact.

CELF Eco-Footprint Program

In the CELF program, students become investigators as well as agents of change. Breaking into four focus groups, students examine a specific aspect of their school - Energy/Water; Food/Waste; Paper/Purchasing and Transportation. Through data collection and challenging activities, the students determine how their station contributes to the school's Ecological Footprint, and ultimately, generate ideas about how to reduce it.

When the academic year comes to a close next summer, we expect to have reached more than 720 students and dozens of faculty and parents through this program alone. Schools that participate in the CELF Ecological Footprint Program have already made an important step toward a more sustainable future.

Katie Ginsberg
CELF Executive Director


The internet grows ever more popular as a venue for lifelong learning and CELF offers webinar sessions for educators across the nation. Most recently, on November 9th and 10th, CELF conducted two such sessions. The first, produced with Creative Change Education Solutions (MI), "Leadership for Best Practices in Sustainability Education Curriculum and Professional Development," highlighted CELF's consulting work with three New York public school districts: Yonkers, Scarsdale and New Rochelle. The goal was to share 'lessons learned' from each of these large districts committed to integrating EfS into their formal curriculum.

 The second webinar, "Educating Students for Sustainability: Case Studies from around the Country", was conducted by the US Partnership for EfS. CELF was featured as a professional organization that supports the development of "Sustainability Literate" students.  Patti Bressman, CELF Director of Programs, co-facilitated CELF's presentation along with Yonkers high school students who shared their experiences in environmental stewardship programs and public policy-making, including their work with local organizations and the Yonkers Sustainability Task Force. The students attributed their inspiration for "thinking sustainably" to their mentors and teachers, many of whom have attended CELF's Summer Institute program or have participated in other CELF programs, such as the CELF EXPO.

 Missed the USP webinar?
Click on following link to view the entire broadcast:
Educating Students for Sustainability: Case Studies from around the Country

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The Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation