Creating Healthy, Smart Schools

posted in: Healthy Schools, Healthy Schools | 0

If we wish to create schools that  promote the health, learning and lives of our students,  we must involve students as full partners in this adventure.

When students help design and maintain their school environment, they gain knowledge, voice and responsibility.

In turn, the school gets expert advice on what works for kids, innovative ideas and children who feel ownership for their school.

Creating healthier, smarter schools starts and ends with creating healthier, smarter students, empowered by their learning, actions and decisions.


The following posts include :

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, a learning project that involves students in understanding and improving their school environment,

A report on a Sustainability Study of Southwest Baltimore Charter School,

Videos of students and teachers describing how their energy study led to the installation of solar tubes to help light their school

School energy experts describing potential savings and successful energy challenges.

and an outline of  Innovate your School, an upcoming  innovation challenge at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

I look forward to adding more projects to this list soon.   Do you have some that we should post here?

Let’s share this new way of empowering our children and improving our schools.



The Power of Youth

Charles Orgbon III, CEO of Greening Forward, is 20 seconds into his speech to an auditorium filled with architects, engineers, teachers and builders and it is clear that he is the brightest person in the room.
And the youngest—Charles Orgbon III is in high school.

So what do you do when the youngest person in the room is taking his elders to task for not giving real voice or decisions to children?


“I hear well-meaning and well intentioned adults say youth are the future, but the reality is youth are today. Youth are the leaders of today and youth can drive transformational, substantive change– if given the chance.”
Pacing the stage with a bright, wide smile, Orgbon is friendly, but insistent.

“I challenge adults to soften your hearts and let young people share decision making responsibility with you as an adult… So… how many of you have youth on your board of directors or as a part of your leadership team?…”
He smiles and waits in the silence.

“It’s obvious. Young people are uniquely qualified to say what works for young people, so if your program is serving young people, where are they?
Why aren’t they part of your evaluation committee?
Why aren’t they designing the schools that we get to go to school in?
Why aren’t we designing the curriculum that is taught to us?
The school boards that are led by grey haired adults–where are the students in that process that they are making decisions that affect our lives?”

Orgbon smiles to the crowd and continues.

“I believe that as adults we all have a powerful role in challenging young people to take that leadership role. Use your power to help a young person find his. Because when youth are challenged to create change in their communities we will rise to that challenge.”

“It’s a diversity issue; it’s a democracy issue..” Orgbon points out, looking into the crowd of mostly white adults at the USGBC Green School Summit in Washington DC.

They are listening intently and applaud his speech, enthusiastically.

Diversity, democracy and inclusion are themes that have echoed through every civil rights movement. But will the generations that recognized the rights of women and people of color now recognize the rights of youth to protect their future?

Climate change means that decisions on energy use will affect the world of our future–our youth–far more than the grey haired people who are making these decisions. Our youth will bear the brunt or fruits of these decisions, but have no voice or vote in making them. This is unjust. It is also poor planning. You don’t leave the safety decisions to the people that get off at the next stop or long term financial decisions to the people who are cashing out.

Orgbon is asking youth to rise up to claim their stake in their world and the adults to reach out to meet them. This can be a vibrant, peaceful revolution that empowers us and protects our world for our youth—for many generations to come. It doesn’t take a war, just an open door and outreached hand.

Shan Gordon

Thank you, Legislators

posted in: Healthy Schools, Multimedia | 0

5th grade students at Cross Country Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore write thank you notes to legislators who approved a funding measure for construction and renovation of about 50 Baltimore City schools. Students were looking forward to going to a school with air conditioning, clean bathrooms, unbroken chairs and fewer pests.