Robbinsdale Area Schools

School of Engineering and Arts (SEA) Named a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School

Robbinsdale Area Schools is proud to announce the School of Engineering and Arts (SEA) is the only Minnesota school to be named a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School award honoree, according to the U.S. Department of Education, which announced award recipients earlier today. Schools that earn this recognition demonstrate significant achievement in the three Pillars of the Green Ribbon Schools Award: reducing environmental impact, improving health and wellness, and providing effective environmental education.

“We are so honored to be recognized as a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School,” said Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D., Superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools. “This award is a reflection of the hard work of our educators, families and community in demonstrating sustainable practices and promoting environmental education in our programming and our culture,” he continued.

Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Since 2012, Minnesota awardees have included 22 schools, two school districts, and four colleges. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools – among them, three magnet schools and four charter schools – as well as 11 nonpublic schools.

SEA was nominated for the award by the Minnesota Department of Education. “Now more than ever, I am inspired by the innovation and creativity of our school communities,” said Mary Cathryn Ricker, Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner. “Congratulations to Robbinsdale School of Engineering and Arts on this prestigious recognition. Thank you for your important efforts toward a better, more sustainable future for Minnesota and the world,” she continued.

One of the district’s three magnet elementary schools, SEA is rooted in the STEAM (science-technology- engineering-arts-math) philosophy and serves students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Located in Golden Valley, Minn., the school opened in 2012. Staff have worked to reestablish native plants, orchards and gardens and does not use irrigation. Seventy-five percent of the property is devoted to ecologically beneficial use. Additionally, SEA and District 281 staff have worked collaboratively to reduce water consumption and solid waste, with a diversion rate of 56%.

Students outside of the chicken coop

Teachers are frequently found outdoors, teaching required core content in math, language arts, music, art, physical education and science combined with outdoor experiences. The students tend to chickens, butterfly gardens, a pumpkin patch, a fruit orchard, a vegetable garden and the school forest.

During their time at SEA, students learn from multiple environmental professionals, including: MN Department of Natural Resources foresters, fisheries, invasive specialists and conservation officers; National, State and County Park rangers and naturalists; and numerous scientists and engineers with green career focuses. In addition to learning from professionals in environmental careers, students attend environmentally-focused field trips multiple times each school year. The locations for these trips have included: the Mississippi River National Park for the Working Field Trip where students studied locks, dams and alternative energies; numerous Three River Parks; MN Arboretum; Zoos; MN Twins Stadium Green Tour; Science Museum; Target Headquarters; and other related locations.

“We are honored to receive the distinction as a National Green Ribbon School. This would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication from our teachers, staff, students, parents and community volunteers,” said Heather Hanson, Ed.D., Principal of SEA.