US Department of Ed Selects HEC Academy as Green Ribbon award winner

Home E CES Stories E US Department of Ed Selects HEC Academy as Green Ribbon award winner
Article Author: Martha Maloney
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: May 1, 2024
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HEC Academy has been selected one of 55 national 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon award winners. The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a public engagement initiative for school sustainability. The ED-GRS is a recognition of HEC Academy’s progress in three sustainability focused pillars: reduced environmental impact and costs, improved health and wellness, and effective environmental and sustainability education.  HEC Academy was one of only three schools within Massachusetts to receive this award.

Students have been involved in planning much of the sustainability work over the last three years. Says Amy Stamm, one of the staff members working closely with the students: “HEC is guided by a strategic plan that centers sustainability in all practices and requires the school to use only environmentally friendly cleaning and landscaping products.”  These include incorporating sustainability into the design for an upcoming building renovation and installing filtered water stations supplied with reusable cups, as well as water-saving faucets and hand dryers. Students were an integral part of the design and installation of a school garden that became the center of both integrated environmental science and food education lessons.  Weekly cooking classes have also been part of the garden work. Students volunteer at several sustainability organizations, such as the annual Northampton Toy Exchange, where students help divert thousands of textiles, toys, and baby items from the waste stream to be redistributed to families in need.  

HEC Academy is a therapeutic, public day special education program for youth in grades 9-12 who are eligible to receive services via an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Students typically present with social-emotional challenges, learning disabilities, ADHD, and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Students work individually and in small groups on academics, social skills, recreation, and community service, and earn credits toward high school graduation from their sending schools. We work diligently with our students to provide them with the tools, knowledge, and support they need to fully reach their potential, both in school and in the community at large.

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