The John Baird Appreciation Initiative

Last January, John announced his intention to “graduate with the class of 2017,” concluding his 15-year tenure as Head of School. In recognition of and gratitude for his passionate leadership at Westtown and his successful efforts to lift up environmental sustainability as a core value in the school’s teaching, buildings, campus and operations, the Board of Trustees announces a fundraising initiative in honor of John by encouraging gifts to The John W. Baird Environmental Sustainability Fund.

John’s passion for sustainability education and action, reaching back to his first years as a science teacher, has played a pivotal role in shaping Westtown’s sustainability initiatives for more than a decade. He wrote in the 2005 Westonian, “Westtown has a unique opportunity to model global education, and what a sustainable school and a sustainable world could look like.”

Our school has pursued John’s vision with energy, resolve, and broadly recognized results. He has engaged the full community in advancing a culture of sustainability at Westtown. The impact is visible in campus operations, policies, and land use planning and management. Above all, sustainability themes are embedded school-wide in the pre-K- 12 curriculum appearing in religion, history, science, English, world languages, mathematics, the arts, economics, and even health courses.

About the Fund

The John W. Baird Environmental Sustainability Fund was established in 2008 by a handful of donors with the purpose of environmental stewardship, and in support of John’s vision for the school. The charter states that the Fund will be used at the discretion of the Head of School for projects related to the environmental sustainability of Westtown School, as well as program-related initiatives.

To date, contributions to this Fund have supported a variety of projects, such as Westtown’s Sustainability Director’s initiatives, Earth Day events, and faculty professional development. Future disbursements from this Fund will continue to support projects related to environmental sustainability at the discretion of the Head of School.

How Donations Will Be Used

First, the existing Fund will be endowed to continue the advancement of environmental awareness and to support priority projects on Westtown’s campus. The endowed portion will be determined by a spending policy established by the Board of Trustees and will, in essence, allow John Baird’s legacy and commitment to sustainability to live on in perpetuity.

In addition, gifts to this Fund after its endowment will continue to support new (and possibly larger) initiatives on campus. As an example, funds might be used for the creation of outdoor classrooms, school-wide sustainability programming, or as matching funds in a grant proposal. All uses of the Fund will be directed by the Head of School.

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