Caesar Rodney School District, Jefferson School win U.S. Green Ribbon Awards

Award honors schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions for reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness, offering effective sustainability education

The Caesar Rodney School District and the private Jefferson School are 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon winners, federal officials announced today.


Across the country, 35 schools, 14 districts, and four post-secondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to address the three “pillars” of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education. A state education official is also being recognized for his efforts to advance school sustainability in the state of Minnesota.


The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states. The selectees include 25 public schools as well as 10 nonpublic schools.  Thirty-six percent of the 2019 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.


“The Caesar Rodney School District and the Jefferson School exemplify how our schools can reduce their environmental impact, save resources, improve the health and wellness of their communities and provide students with hands-on, engaging learning,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “This national recognition is well deserved.”


Delaware’s winners will be honored by Governor John Carney next week. The event is at 9:30 a.m. May 29 at Caesar Rodney School District’s W. Reily Brown Elementary, 360 Webbs Lane in Dover.


More about Delaware’s winners


  • Caesar Rodney School District: Each of the 12 schools in the Kent County district has its own student-led EcoTeam, giving all students from prekindergarten to 12th grade “an outlet to share and work out their ideas for Delaware green schools and to collaborate with each other.” Students have led reforms, such as the “share tables” started in some cafeterias. Children place unopened, unwanted items on the table for others in an effort to reduce food waste. The district’s Postlethwait Middle School, Frear Elementary and Charlton School comprise “the EcoCampus at CRSD,” which is evolving into “a district hub for green schools initiatives, teacher professional development and student field experiences.” Teachers across the district are provided resources to “facilitate installation or renovation of outdoor classrooms, community gardens, and compost centers on their campuses.” Rain gardens to manage storm water also were added. Community partnerships with environmental groups and government agencies has provided additional opportunities for educational experiences for students and resources to support environmental education and facility improvements. The district also has worked to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of its facilities.
  • Jefferson School: The private Georgetown school, which adjoins the Redden Sate Forest, promotes “active, engaged learning via multi-sensory, hands-on experiences.” Educators incorporate into the curriculum the school’s 43-acre campus – which includes two ponds, trails with fitness stations, an outdoor classroom, a nature explore classroom area, pollinator and vegetable gardens, greenhouse, goats, chickens, beehives, numerous tree, bush and wildflower plantings, and purple martin nest houses. Since 2010, the school has worked with regional partners including environmental nonprofits and state agencies. The school also has worked in recent years to “create an educational facility that can be shared with the larger community,” including the hiring of an environmental science coordinator and summer outdoor program coordinator to facilitate such programming.


“I am extremely proud and appreciative of all the work that was done to help us earn this award.  This achievement is the result of sustained commitment. These aren’t changes you make overnight, and our work isn’t over. We will continue to seek more ways to reduce our district’s environmental impact, improve the health and wellness of our Rider community and provide our students with an exemplary education around the environment and sustainability.  Our students and their teachers under the guidance of Mr. Todd Klawinski made this happen, and I congratulate them for this prestigious honor.” Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, said.


State Senator Harris McDowell III, chairman of the Oversight Board for Energize Delaware, praised the collaborative work of Delaware schools, nonprofits and government agencies: “It is so good to see that a program like Pathways to Green Schools results in teaching students about the importance of sustainability efforts.  They will shape the future in the energy efficiency landscape.”


DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin also lauded the winners.


“We congratulate the Caesar Rodney School District and the Jefferson School for this prestigious designation,” Garvin said. “Students are involved in research about local environmental issues that affect their schools, neighborhoods, and communities. They are reaching far beyond textbooks and connecting directly with the environment that surrounds them. Clearly, the Caesar Rodney School District and the Jefferson School have reached above and beyond to become excellent environmental stewards.”


The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here.  A report with highlights on the 53 honorees can be found here.  More information on the federal recognition award can be found here.  Resources for all schools to move toward the three pillars can be found here.


Media Contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006



Delaware names Warner Elementary as state Green Ribbon winner

Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Warner Elementary School is Delaware’s 2018 Green Ribbon award winner, becoming the state’s nominee for the national award.

The Green Ribbon program recognizes schools for exemplary achievement and considerable progress in three areas: 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and 3) providing effective environmental and sustainability education by incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), civic skills and green career pathways.

Warner went from a school that did not recycle at all to a school that has placed recycling as a top priority amongst its students and staff:

  • Every classroom now has a recycling bin for paper, plastics, and aluminum. On a weekly basis, the school recycles about 130 pounds of classroom “trash.”
  • The school upgraded its Styrofoam lunch trays to recycled paper trays and now recycles all the milk jugs in the lunch room.
  • All third-graders visit the Delaware Solid Waste Authority to learn about recycling and conservation.

“This is a crucial first step in our student’s knowledge of the importance of recycling. The students gain the knowledge needed to make changes within their school and community to help save the planet,” the school wrote in its application.

Warner also made facility changes to be more efficient in its water usage:

  • Automatic toilets and sinks help reduce water usage.
  • Refillable water bottle stations replaced water fountains.
  • The school went from using 318k gallons in May 2011 to 146k gallons in May 2016.

The school has sought and won multiple grants and awards to support its efforts to become an eco-friendly building, including:

  • The Energy Star award for 2008-2013.
  • A grant from the Delaware Valley Green Building Council in 2015.
  • A vermiculture (worm composting) kit that is used in the science curriculum.
  • Funding in 2013 from the Triangle Neighborhood Association to start a school garden, which now produces hundreds of pounds of vegetables a year. The vegetables are used in the school’s kitchen and served to students. Neighbors also are invited to harvest from the garden.

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting lauded the entire Warner community for its efforts, particularly the students who have taken ownership of this work.

“The students lead the recycling efforts in the building,” Bunting said, noting Warner’s Green Team of students are chosen through grade-level writing prompts to educate their peers and staff on the importance of recycling.

“These students are leading by example,” Bunting said. “They and the rest of the Warner student body, their families, the faculty and staff and their neighborhood partners deserve this recognition for their achievements.”

State officials will honor Warner at a ceremony later this spring. The U.S. Department of Education will name national winners next month.


Media Contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006.