Sustainability Program

Sustainability Mission Statement

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School strives to shape engaged citizens who live with integrity, empathy, and purpose, in part by involving our community in the stewardship of the planet. We foster in our students an appreciation of the world’s beauty and a sense of rich possibility along with a depth of knowledge about its complexities and challenges and a determination to make a positive difference in its care. In this time of increasing demands and stress upon Earth’s natural resources and ecosystems, the Day School recognizes environmental sustainability as a necessity and a core principle.  We seek to equip students to meet these challenges through modeling best management practices within our physical plant; integration of environmental themes, content, and skill-building in an interdisciplinary curriculum; and stewardship opportunities in our day-to-day lives at school and in the broader communities of which we are a part.  

Curriculum Integration

Faculty and staff and students in Nursery to Grade 8 are committed to integrating environmental sustainability into their lives and classrooms, recognizing it as a vital and necessary part of our institutional mission and our School Creed. This commitment is evident in a curriculum that values sustainability. Our youngest students participate in composting and recycling and a celebration of our planet on Nursery School Earth Day. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 learn to love nature through outside play and exploration, as well as through participation in environmentally themed projects such as the Grade 1 farm-to-table unit, the Grade 2 recycling study, the Grade 4 shad restoration project, and the Grade 5 archeological dig. On the MacArthur Campus, Grades 6, 7, and 8 students have created an environmental action committee that meets to discuss, implement, and assess sustainability initiatives. Grades 7 and 8 students end their St. Patrick’s careers in a science class with a rich environmental science curriculum focused on solution-based learning and conservation.

Community Partnerships and Professional Development

St. Patrick’s is committed to increasing our understanding of environmental sustainability-related topics and initiatives through professional development for faculty, staff, and administrators. We are also committed to developing partnerships within our local community and beyond as we strive to learn about, implement, and extend best management practices so that we can become more sustainable. We have sponsored sustainability speakers and provided professional development for faculty and staff focused on outdoor education and environmental sustainability. Students have many opportunities to learn about our local environment and community-based efforts to protect it. For example, students have visited the Montgomery County Recycling Center in Derwood, MD, and our compost facility in Upper Marlboro, MD, as well as the Anacostia River and Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. The interdisciplinary monarch butterfly unit is one of the many highlights of the Grade 1 curriculum, along with our partnership with City Wildlife, which helps our students understand the flora and fauna in our local environment.

Best Management Practices

Our students and faculty and staff are committed to maintaining a green campus. We compost more than 900 gallons a week and have reduced our lunchtime trash to less than 20 gallons a day for our entire 600-member community. We are committed to greening our campus with renewable energy resources, an easy and efficient recycling system, and composting in our classroom and office areas. To organize and promote these efforts, St. Patrick’s is currently working toward green certification through Eco-Schools USA.

Highlights of our ongoing sustainability initiatives:

  • Action Teams: We have established faculty and staff and student environmental action teams to guide us in this work.

  • Composting: Currently, we have 17 classroom composters and compost more than 900 gallons of lunchtime waste each week.

  • Certification: Our environmental action teams are working on our Eco-Schools USA certification, a seven-step process with the participation of students, parents, and faculty and staff.  

  • Battery Recycling: Grade 1 students began a battery recycling program, which encourages students to be conscious of their e-waste.

  • Professional Development: Faculty and staff have engaged in sustainability-themed professional development with an eye toward using sustainability initiatives to improve the teaching and learning environment.

  • Snack Bags: We have offered students alternative, healthier snack options out of bulk containers, which help decrease the number of snack bags that end up in our landfills, and Grade 5 students began a snack bag program with Terracycle to save and recycle snack bags still available for snacks.

  • Recycling Facility:  Grade 2 students visited the Montgomery County Recycling Center in Derwood, MD, to see first-hand what happens to our discarded plastics and papers.

  • Earth Day:  Nursery School and Lower School students earned their Earth Day medals by cleaning up trash, planting, bagging compost, and making sustainability pledges

  • Faculty and Staff Initiatives:  Our faculty and staff have been committed to reducing waste by moving away from straws, using reusable mugs and plates, and unsubscribing from junk mail that can clog their school mailboxes.

  • Facilities: The Maintenance Team continues to replace existing lights with LED’s, now representing 60% of our lights. We plan to reach 100% LED by 2020.