Watauga High School, Boone, NC

NC Green School of Excellence, 2016- present

Lead Teacher: Courtney Baines Smith, smithc@wataugaschools.org

Watauga School demonstrates excellence in all five areas of the Green School rubric. Teachers, staff, and leaders within our school system work with students to create a culture that promotes the values of sustainability and conservation. A recent survey of teachers at our school indicates that sustainability plays a part in the curricula of a majority of classes, and that students apply what they have learned in the classroom within the community. Notably, students have designed, researched, and implemented projects such as a rain garden and multiple water bottle filling stations.

Our school campus is LEED Silver certified and was designed with sustainability principles in mind. Our school uses energy-efficient lighting, a wind turbine, water-efficient bathrooms, a geothermal HVAC system, passive-solar lighting (including solar tubes in the science classrooms), a state of the art greenhouse, and a working horticulture farm to maximize the use of sustainable practices on our ecampus. Since the campus was constructed ten years ago, further improvements have been made to maximize sustainability. Most recently, water bottle filling stations that were installed in the Spring of 2017 have already prevented thousands of plastic water bottles from being carelessly used and thrown into our landfills.

Our school’s culture, in addition to the culture of the local community, promotes health and well-being. A majority of our teachers take students outside during class, and we require Healthful Living and Physical Education courses for graduation. Our cafeteria also follows the MyPlate nutritional guidelines and offers a variety of nutritional food.

Sustainability is also incorporated into the curricula of classes across many disciplines, as indicated by the WHS Green School teacher survey. 100% of respondents had incorporated some aspect of sustainability into their curriculum. Of the teachers surveyed, 97% felt that it is important to include sustainability principles and practices as part of a High School Education. The same percentage of teachers surveyed agreed that it is important that Watauga High School to be designed, operated, and maintained in a sustainable manner. Any student who graduates from Watauga High School has learned about sustainability within the context of the local environment and has applied that knowledge to local and global issues.

Our school is innovative in its design, location, and through our teacher & student leadership. Watauga High School was the first school in the state to be built as a LEED certified public school, setting a new standard for future public school construction. The strategic location near a mountain headwater stream and forested Greenway encourages outdoor nature exploration with real world and place-based education. Teacher and student leadership includes multiple partnerships with community service organizations, hosting Mountain Alliance, a youth service & adventure nonprofit, solar-powered cameras installed in on-campus bird houses, and a GLOBE citizen-science forest trail, among others.


 

 

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