Chesapeake Bay Foundation Launches
Maryland Bay Schools Project
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has selected nine Maryland schools as partners in the pilot phase of the Bay Schools Project, an innovative environmental education program that will use the environment to help improve academic achievement, school behaviors, and environmental stewardship.
The Bay Schools Project is part of a national effort to encourage schools to use the environment as an "integrating context for learning." In a nation-wide study of schools that had woven the environment through their curricula in a similar manner, the State Education and Environment Roundtable found that using the environment had a positive impact on a wide array of variables, including academics, student interest in learning, and attendance.
The schools selected include four elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and one private school, and represent diverse economic, social, and geographical regions throughout the state. The schools are Perry Hall Elementary School (Baltimore County); North Bend Elementary School (Harford County); Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School (Baltimore City); Hollywood Elementary School (St. Mary's County); Forest Oak Middle School (Montgomery County); Bohemia Manor Middle School (Cecil County); Northern High School (Baltimore City); Broadneck High School (Anne Arundel County); and the Key School (private, Anne Arundel County).
"The Bay Schools Project will bring meaningful, sustained Bay education to a diverse audience of students and teachers," said CBF Vice President for Education Don Baugh. "We believe that using the local environment as the theme for learning can improve students' academic success and encourage them to take positive action toward the protection and restoration of Maryland's watershed."
After extensive research, a CBF Bay Schools Project committee selected the partner schools based on, but not limited to, teacher and administrative commitment, the school's vision for the project, site and scheduling possibilities to accommodate project-based learning, and geographic and demographic range.
Bay Schools project coordinators, three experienced educators hired by CBF, will serve as direct liaisons between CBF and the partner schools to support and assist each school. A steering committee composed of the principals from each school and several lead teachers will help provide guidance to the Bay Schools Project team. A steering committee of students from each school will also meet to help CBF document the impact of the Bay Schools Project on students.
In addition to helping the schools weave the environment into their classroom curricula, CBF will also offer the schools up to 20 days of field trips on the Bay and local tributaries. CBF's field-based education program takes more than 37,000 students and teachers out in the Bay watershed each year, and has received national recognition and awards.
"We are confident that this project will have a dramatic impact on the long-term health of the Bay, as well as on students' achievement in school," said CBF's Jessica Bearman, who directs the Bay Schools Project. "CBF can help develop citizens who think critically about choices, consider different perspectives, and develop positive solutions to problems in the real world."
"Although CBF was the catalyst for this project," added Bearman, "a varied and influential mix of partners and project advisors has helped to ensure that the Bay Schools Project is solidly grounded in the actual needs of school systems."
CBF will launch the Bay Schools Project this summer with 10 days of professional development for each school, including a Chesapeake Bay immersion course and a summit that will bring environmental education experts from around the country and state to share their knowledge and help schools plan for the upcoming year.
For more information about CBF's Bay Schools project, contact David Slater at 410-268-7742, ext. 811.