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"I've been to dozens of professional development and curriculum workshops; the CELF Institute was the best of the best.... I left with a comprehensive PLAN and felt totally prepared to implement my re-framed unit in the fall." Boston Latin High School History teacher


Long, sunny days are dwindling, but before we leap into our busy autumn schedule, we wanted to share our summer with you. CELF's numerous Summer Institutes for Sustainability were a great success, we can say with some CELF-ish pride. The inaugural Boston course, held for five days in July at Simmons College, was exciting and productive, earning high praise and national press. Thanks to the dedicated and tireless work of CELF Boston Institute Coordinator Sarah Mills, CELF's first Boston Institute attracted 34 teachers from 15 schools from the Boston-metro area, including a team of 14 educators from the country's oldest public school - alma mater to five US Declaration of Independence signers - the Boston Latin School. Students at the school joined the Youth Climate Action Network [YouthCAN] after learning about climate change, and, with guidance from Cate Arnold, 8th grade history teacher and YouthCAN advisor, the student group is  actively working toward a solution to the environmental crisis. As an exciting first step, Boston Latin School will pilot units developed at the CELF Boston Summer Institute in the 2010-2011 school year.


BLS YouthCAN delegation with National Grid Foundation Board Member Carmen Fields & CELF's Katie Ginsberg & Sarah Mills
Collectively, 35 of the participants in the NY and Boston CELF Summer Institutes earned graduate credits for their tremendous efforts this July through our higher ed partners, Manhattanville and Simmons Colleges. An additional nine teachers earned continuing ed or PDP credits.

What makes the CELF Summer Institute unique is that it brings together teachers of myriad different subjects, schools and states, and teachers walk away with a "sustainable" curricular plan in hand. Graduates of this year's Summer Institute were no exception. What does it mean to re-frame a lesson plan or curriculum "through the lens of sustainability"? What does that look like in an actual classroom? Here are two examples:  

  • David Whitehead, Science Department Chair for Irvington High School, New York, incorporated sustainability concepts and standards into his high school-level honors chemistry unit on Thermodynamics. His students will explore the concept of energy efficiency, conservation, and how it relates to the environment, by conducting experiments designed to determine the heat released or absorbed in a chemical reaction.
  • Boston Latin's Cate Arnold restructured her US History unit focusing on "The Columbian Encounter" and the European arrival in the Americas to include a close look at underlying assumptions and cultural values of conflicting communities. A study of specific and successful indigenous societal practices - housing, governance, farming - will enable students to consider the forces that shape societies and determine how values and sustainability are inextricably linked.  


For more information and examples of projects from the CELF Summer Institutes, see below.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson visited the course to congratulate and encourage all the teachers: "I'm really excited that all of you have had a chance to participate and learn and I think it reinforces my notion that the students really will lead the way in this revolution."

Thermodynamics activity
Understanding sustainability through a thermodynamics activity

In addition to Superintendent Carol Johnson, other guest speakers contributed to the vibrant seminar led by Susan Santone director of Creative Change Educational Solutions (CCES) of Michigan. Lisa Hodes spoke to the group about the carbon offset industry and how her company, Gold Standard Foundation, certifies carbon credits for sustainable development projects. Grant Kristofek, an MIT trained mechanical engineer wowed teachers with his news about innovative green design. Kristofek, Kristofek Consulting Group, is on the development team for, a wildly popular open source tool that examines the supply chain, or the total carbon footprint of a product. Alan Palm, from the California-based Alliance for Climate Education reminded teachers in a refreshing way that there is no harm in making sustainability "cool."


CELF Boston 2010 SI details included:

    • 34 teachers participated from public and private schools traveling from across MA, ME and CA, working independently from the MA EfS curriculum project.
    • 15 participants from Boston Latin School working to create curriculum units for a pilot program to be implemented during the 2010-2011 school year. One of the BLS YouthCAN major projects has been to lobby for curricular change to incorporate EfS into the MA curriculum.
    • A tour of the Simmons School of Management Green Roof by Steve Gusmini, Director of Building and Grounds.
    • Additional guest speakers: Jane Hirschi, Executive Director of CitySprouts; Lisa Scolaro, Science Curriculum Coordinator for Cambridge Public Schools; and Lina Yamashita, program coordinator of Primary Source.  
    • Funding through a generous grant from National Grid Foundation.National Grid logo
"The Institute enabled me to really explore ideas I had for my 9th grade sustainability elective course and align them to the wonderful resources made accessible by the collaboration between CELF and CCES." Julie C., New Rochelle High School Science Teacher, NY
Irvington teachers at 2010 SI
Irvington HS science teachers participating in a sustainable design activity

Also in July,  41 teachers from New York and Connecticut attended CELF Summer Institutes at Reid Castle on the campus of Manhattanville College, in Purchase, NY. The hot temperatures inspired many cool and innovative projects and programs, including:

  •  examplesA team of nine Irvington, NY Middle and High School Science teachers updated and advanced their district's science curriculum using systems thinking and sustainability as a foundation. To nurture this effort, CELF will present our Ecological Footprint Program at the Irvington Middle School this fall, for 8th grade accelerated science students. 
  • A team of four teachers from Riverside High School, in Yonkers, NY worked on unit makeovers to incorporate sustainability (EfS) content and assessment tools in the district-wide online curriculum map. This will produce a standardized framework for all Yonkers district faculties to utilize. The team will continue to develop the curriculum map throughout the school year, and will participate in ongoing professional development with CELF and CCES, as part of our joint grant project, Leadership in Best Practices for Sustainability Curriculum and Professional Development, funded by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation.
  • Bob Iovino, Briarcliff Manor Middle School science teacher was inspired to create an interdisciplinary program while in the course designed for middle school teachers. He is having it bound into a workbook for distribution at his school. 
  • New Rochelle teachers created a 9th grade EfS elective that will launch the district's longer term plan for a four year sustainability major, a program that was "mapped" at the 2009 CELF SI.
  • A team of six Chatsworth Elementary School, Larchmont, NY teachers worked on numerous projects, including a school-based program encouraging community and school partnership in the creation of a sustainable herb garden.
  • As part of their district-wide curriculum mapping initiative, nine elementary teachers from Yonkers Public Schools worked on unit makeovers and science curriculum maps to incorporate sustainability (EfS) content and assessment tools. 

NY Programs' highlights included:

    • MS/HS 5-day Institute lead presenter Susan Santone, Director of CCES.
    • Guest speakers: Scott Beall, DoRight, Inc. & Integral Vision Learning; Deb Johnson, Academic Director of Sustainability, Pratt Institute; and Donna M. Maiello, ASLA and Matthew N. Steinberg, AICP, Divney Tung Schwalbe.
    • Elementary School 3-day Institute lead presenter Tiffany Tillman of Shelburne Farms, VT. Teachers enjoyed the numerous outdoor activities, collaborating, and using the Understanding by Design model, and the focus on sustainable communities.
    • Funded through generous grants from the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and Con Edison.

"I wanted to thank you again for such an inspiring course this summer at Manhattanville College. The class was such a great way to get like minded teachers together to brainstorm and learn from one another. I have already begun work with my colleagues at Briarcliff incorporating many of the lessons from the course." Bob Iovino, Briarcliff Middle School Science Teacher, NY

KES Boiler room
Learning about energy consumption in their school while participating in the CELF Eco-Footprint Program


Read more about how Manhattan Country School and other schools whose staff have participated in CELF Summer Institutes are embracing sustainability with the CELF Ecological Footprint Program and on-going professional development in next month's CELF e-News


Sept. 30th: CELF presentation at the NAAEE National Conference 

Oct. 7th: Manhattan Country School Eco-Footprint Program 

Oct. 14th: Co-sponsorship of the GSCW Conference

Oct. 20th-21st: Leadership Grant Conference Days 

Nov. 2nd: NYC Professional Development Day for public high school teachers