Green Team Grabs National Green Ribbon School Award


Faith Hall and Jasmine McDonough

The Bernzomatic Garden is highlighted with plants grown through Environmental STEM classes. This highlights a school-wide effort to improve healthy eating through multiple programs.

From completing multiple sustainability and environmental projects, Winslow Township Middle School’s Green Team won the US Department of Education’s National Green Ribbon Award on Earth Day of 2021.

“There [are] numerous sustainable actions that have been implemented as a result of this hard working team,” s aid Principal Stella Nwanguma.  “As a result,  they have successfully led our school to both Silver and Green Ribbon status in the 2020-2021 school year This is indeed remarkable.”

This was a school-wide win… and we could not have done it without the support from our entire school.””

— Principal Nwanguma

In order for the Green Team to win this award, they had to go through a rigorous application process, where they had to show evidence in 3 main areas such as reduced environmental impact and costs, Health and wellness, and lastly effective environmental and sustainability education in both school and community.  The team met with organizations such as Sodexo and Aramark, who supplied our school food service and maintenance for the facilities. The members filled out the application based on the areas that they had already tackled, highlighting for themselves that the team had already passed their goals and yearly expectation.

 “It was just unbelievable to realize that we were doing all of this already,” said Grants Committee Chair and Science Content Area Coach Ms. Kiett. “So this is one of the best parts of the Green Team. In applying for this award we realized how amazing our school truly is.” 

The Green Team was initially created as a response to many students taking on numerous sustainability practices and desiring  to know how to make these practices school-wide as well as community wide. Having a Green Team was also a requirement for schools that seek certification through  Sustainable Jersey for schools. Knowing this, Winslow Township Middle  school decided to seek that certification. Now, the green team is a part of the school’s culture from teachers educating students on sustainability, recycling, and becoming more efficient. 

“The motivation is in the great work that we are doing both in the school and in our community,” stated Ms. Kiett, “for our health and wellness, sustainability, energy, and social and emotional learning.” 

The Green Team teaches students about sustainability and their environment with hands-on activities like their focus on healthy food choices, and how to incorporate them into students’ lives. The Green Team also dives in the social aspect, from doing Facebook lives with the National School Board Association about climate change, and are now partaking in a climate change contest. The Green Team is here to show students that as a school we are a change force, and what they say matters. It gives every student a voice.

Green team members are the facilitators of many health awareness, safety, and fitness programs that take place at the Middle School,” stated Nwanguma.

The Green Team is looking forward to more projects, such as the school’s greenhouse, and working on new curriculums for classes that will be directly hands-on application of sustainability principles. Currently, WTMS is a silver certified school for Sustainable New Jersey Schools; the team is working on continuing that certification by completing actions that will keep them on the highest level. The main goal is to continue to make a greater impact on Winslow’s community during COVID-19 and to make an even  greater one once the restrictions are lifted.

“This was a school-wide win; it was not just a Green Team,” said Principal Nwanguma, “and we could not have done it without the support from our entire school.”