Celebrating the movement: Reflections on GSCE

Published on: 
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Jennifer Seydel

Jennifer Seydel is the Executive Director of the Green Schools National Network, partner presenter of the Green Schools Conference and Expo.

For the past six years, I have been honored and humbled to be part of this amazing gathering of teachers, school leaders and green school champions, better known as the Green Schools Conference and Expo, March 31–April 1 this year in Pittsburgh, Pa. I have come to refer to the annual conference as our “tribal gathering,” since it is the one time where we can come together and celebrate the important, cutting-edge work we are doing to transform our schools and K–12 education. 

As usual, I anticipate having a full schedule at the conference! I am excited to greet old friends and connect with new ones in sessions, at the expo, and over dinner after an exhausting day. The conference may end, but these relationships are lasting, and sometimes, life-changing. Some particular conference highlights for me, include 

  • Attending the breakout session Growing Together: Building Regional Green Schools Hubs. The Green Schools National Network is in the early stages of forming a network of “catalyst schools,” and the current efforts undertaken at Environmental Charter Schools and Common Ground set the stage for what the Network wants to accomplish at a larger scale.
  • Co-presenting at the Solution Summit Measuring Our Impact. This project, which I am proud to be a part of, has the potential to influence how we define the green schools of the future. If you have ideas or opinions for how we should be measuring our school’s environments, I invite you to join us and be heard!
  • Attending the session What’s So Hard About This? Going Green Isn’t for Faint of Heart: Doing the Best You Can Under Seemingly Interminable Odds. Atasha James is one of this year’s Master Series speakers, and I am excited to hear about what she has learned in her journey to remake Leckie Elementary School in Washington, D.C., into an emerging green school.
  • Speaking at the Closing Plenary. As one of the closing speakers this year, I look forward to sending everyone off with an inspiring message about the green schools movement and the upcoming year’s many adventures.
  • Participating in a Green Apple Day of Service project. On the Saturday after the conference, I have the opportunity to lend a hand in building an internationally themed garden for the diverse and multicultural community at Brashear High School in Beechview, Pa. I cannot think of a better way to wrap up my GSCE experience! 

As a movement, we have come a long way and celebrated many successes. We still have a long road to travel. However, I remain firm in my belief that the green schools movement is one of the most important education reform movements of our time. Together, we can accomplish much. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you, new faces and old, in Pittsburgh. 

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