Evergreen Community Charter School is located on 10 acres of land within the Asheville city limits. Rain gardens and bio-swales are integrated throughout the parking lot, effectively cleansing rainwater runoff before returning it to nearby Haw Creek. Campus focal points include a pond and a wetland area fed by rainwater from the roof of the middle school. There is a woodland nature trail that circles the entire campus, a straw bale and cob playhouse, a natural woods play area as well as two playground areas, a regulation soccer field and a picnic area nestled in the shade of well-established trees. The school grounds have been certified as both a National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat and as a Monarch Waystation. There is a hoop house for winter food production and large community garden that has fruit bushes, apple trees, vegetables and flowers. This spring, an outdoor classroom will be completed that will include a cob oven, a covered area and shed near the garden, benches, and a climbing wall. A low ropes course is also in the planning stages.
Evergreen Community Charter School is leading the way in modeling environmental stewardship. Instead of simply teaching an appreciation of nature we are empowering our students and staff to take action, model for others and search for solutions to today’s environmental challenges.
Evergreen is participating in green school recognition programs and is helping to create them as well.
- Evergreen has multiple programs, initiatives and policies that align with each of the five standards of the Green Schools National Network’s “GreenPrint” for Becoming a Green and Healthy School. We are also using the GreenPrint standards to help guide additional efforts. Our Executive Director has served on the board of the Green Schools National Network for the past year and helped with the final refinement of the GreenPrint for Green Schools.
- Evergreen was a part of the Reading, Riding and Retrofit program, which is administered by the EPA. It funds school building and transportation energy efficiency retrofits while implementing sustainable policies and procedures, and mobilizes student "Green Teams" who undertake school-based sustainability projects. Evergreen was among a small group of initial planners who expanded the Reading, Riding and Retrofit program to sponsor the NC Green School Recognition Program. Evergreen is working toward achieving the highest level of the NC Green School Recognition Program and will be in the first cohort of applicants in the spring of 2012.
- Our middle grade science teacher is working with the NC Project WET Coordinator to correlate the Project WET 2.0 curriculum with North Carolina’s Essential Standards. This will result in an aligned curriculum so schools across the state that chose to use Project WET curriculum can be assured that they are also following the NC standards.
- Evergreen is in the process of becoming certified as an Eco-Schools USA. Our Green Team of staff and students began working toward this in the fall of 2010 by first conducting energy audits in classrooms and offices and then implementing an education and awareness campaign to reduce electricity usage. Students monitored the number of devices using electricity, posted “scores” on each classroom door, conducted an awareness campaign about energy vampires, and then did ongoing monitoring to encourage reduced energy use.
Evergreen has received the following awards for environmental education, sustainability and curriculum development:
- The Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) named Evergreen the “Outstanding Environmental Education Center for 2010-2011” for our commitment to creating an environmentally literate student body and encouraging our students to educate the public about important environmental issues.
- The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) awarded us first prize in their Photo Blog Contest for 2011-2012 for our “River Critters” essay and photo about our fifth grade water quality study of a local stream.
- Burroughs Wellcome granted the Career Math and Science Teacher Award to one of our middle school science teachers for 2011-2013. This prestigious award will allow our teacher to receive professional development, curriculum supplies and support for the development of a water quality curriculum that will be shared statewide.
Evergreen’s environmental focus has been profiled in a number of publications and books including:
- Moving the Classroom Outdoors - Schoolyard Enhanced Learning, by Herb Broda, Ashland University
- Dream of a Nation, which highlights our school’s integrated approach to environmental education through building and grounds, curriculum and service
- “Schools Become Energy Efficient, Green.” (Asheville Citizen Times, August 16, 2010) for using innovative and sustainable strategies
- “Charting a Green Course” in THE Journal (online technology publication), as a school using technology in an eco-conscious manner
- “Greening our School – One Step at a Time” in the online magazine, GGS Magazine
- In 2008, Evergreen was voted one of the 10 Greenest Schools in America through the “Ellen DeGeneres & Go Green with AllTM” national contest
All classrooms and offices at Evergreen are actively involved in recycling, composting and waste-free lunch procedures. Snacks for younger students are served in reusable bowls and the students take turns washing their bowls and cups. The classes use cloth towels instead of paper and students bring their own utensils and cloth napkins from home with their lunches. Older students recycle for the younger grades and have begun weighing and recording their collections at the recycling weigh-in station on campus. Office paper that has been used on one side is re-used in the printers to reduce paper consumption. In the classrooms, paper is reused for art or other projects.