Teaching Sustainability

At Westtown, school isn’t just preparation for life: school is real life.

Inquiry, innovation, collaboration, creativity, problem solving: these are the skills we teach students as they become change agents and leaders of a better world. Nowhere is this more evident than in the way we teach about food systems, ecology, and innovative design in all three divisions.

Lower School: Dirty Hands, Active Minds 

  • Pre-K, Kindergarten, and first grade participate in our Farm and Forest program, where they explore the far corners of our diverse campus and learn the wonder of a true connection to the natural world.
  • First grade partners with Willistown Conservation Trust to participate in bird banding and create their own guidebook for local birds.

  • Fourth grade actively leads the Lower School recycling program.

  • Science classes investigate sustainability issues by using the principles of design thinking and our iLab makerspace to build problem solving skills.

  • All grades visit the organic student farm, and participate in the cycle of food production: seeding, planting, harvesting, and preparing meals.

  • Students save seeds from the harvest to pass on for planting in the new school year, completing the cycle.

Middle School: Developing Empathy for Our Environment and Our Community

  • The campus becomes the laboratory, where science classes delve deeply into our streams, lakes, farmland, and forests to understand the complex ecological connections.

  • 6th grade supports the Chester County Food Bank by harvesting produce grown on Westtown farmland for people in need.

  • 8th grade commits an entire week of classes to a collaborative, action-based learning project that looks for sustainable solutions to challenges proposed by our partner school in Ghana.

  • Each grade takes a wilderness canoe trip where students unplug, engage deeply with the natural environment, and develop strong bonds with their classmates.

  • Student leaders take charge to build an environmentally aware school community.

In Upper School: Young Minds Engaged in Designing the Future 

  • Upper School courses focus strongly on sustainability with a wide range of options including Ecology and Environmental Science, Environmental Justice, Design and Engineering, Chemistry, Business and Society, and Calculus.  
  • Student activists can join Green Coalition, our student environmental group, to address issues in our community and to help care for our campus.
  • As an alternative to traditional sports, students can choose to work on the student organic farm or join Outdoor Leadership where they will learn skills for backpacking, canoeing, and the ropes course.
  • The Sustainability Deep Dive allows students to bridge all aspects of student life by designing their own learning to focus on sustainability through aspects of academic courses, school projects, service work, activism, and off campus immersions to truly prepare them for leadership in a sustainable future.







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