Teaching Sustainability

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 the natural world, the environment, ecosystems, and food systems, and how we connect students in all three divisions to the vast living laboratory that is our campus. In our everyday school life, sustainable practices are modeled for our students, and they participate in them as well.

Here are just some of the ways our sustainability mission is expressed in curriculum.

  • Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade participate in our Farm + Forest program, where they explore all corners of our biodiverse campus to develop a true connection to the natural world.
  • 1st grade partners with Willistown Conservation Trust to participate in bird banding and create their own guidebook for local birds; they research and learn about habitats and animal life of the rainforest.
  • 4th grade actively leads the Lower School recycling program.
  • Science classes spend as much time as possible outside to observe, research, and investigate how ecosystems work and how to protect them.
  • All grades visit the mini farm and 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.
  • 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.
  • Upper School courses focus strongly on sustainability with a wide range of options including Environmental Science courses, Environmental Justice, and Design Engineering, among others.
  • 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 the Outdoor Leadership Program where they will learn skills for backpacking, canoeing, and the ropes course.
  • The Sustainability Leadership Deep Dive allows students to design their own learning to focus on sustainability through multidisciplinary academic courses, school projects, service work, activism, and off-campus immersions to truly prepare them for leadership in a sustainable future.