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Photo Essay

Photo Essay: A ball pit, trampoline, squeeze machine, swing, balance beam and tactile boxes offer a sensory break from overstimulation—bright lights, loud noises and constant motion of a classroom—to elementary students at Woodbury City Public Schools in New Jersey.

Teaching students to dream high is one thing. Teaching them how to help others fly safely is something left to ambitious districts.

Learning to grow vegetables and flowers. Digging in the dirt. Understanding how seasons affect plants. Such learning experiences for students come with a green school roof.

Promoting green school roofs is part of New York City’s larger mission to combat air pollution, conserve energy and reduce the amount of stormwater flowing into sewers and waterways.

Green roofs also reduce the need for air conditioning, thus lessening the “urban heat island” effect—a phenomenon in which concentrated human activity and energy use make metropolitan areas hotter.

December 14, 2012 is a day of tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old first grade teacher who died trying to protect her students, has been honored by her hometown of Stratford, Connecticut, with the a newly constructed $18 million magnet elementary school bearing her name.

School gardens used for instruction are on the rise nationwide, and with them, student engagement and test scores, according to a recent study.

The nonprofit REAL School Gardens works with corporations to build outdoor classrooms at low-income schools. The gardens include 150 square feet of vegetable beds, perennial and herb beds, rainwater collection systems, composting bins, earth science stations, and animal habitats.

Sandy Grove Middle School, part of Hoke County Schools in North Carolina, is the first energy-positive school in the nation to be financed by its own expected energy savings.

The 74,000-square-foot school opened to students in fall 2013, and was designed as a net-zero facility that produces more energy than it consumes. It will also meet LEED Gold standards.

STEM came alive in a rural Arizona district after a state grant led to a culture change.

Congress Elementary School District has just 115 students and is located 80 miles northwest of Phoenix. Superintendent and Principal Stephanie Miller received a three-year grant of $42,500 from Science Foundation Arizona and the Arizona STEM Network in 2012 to develop STEM programs and activities in the district.

The 1-to-1 district embarked on a STEM program that includes:

San Diego USD student athletes now play in a new football stadium, baseball field, track and other sports facilities as an $11 million improvement project was completed in April.

The project’s funding came from Proposition Z, San Diego USD’s general obligation bond passed by voters in 2012, as well as from the State Schools Facilities Funds. Construction began in winter 2014.

New York City students are getting a taste of carpentry and other trades through a partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) focused on refurbishing historical buildings.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar challenged NPS’ New York regional department about five years ago to gather ideas to increase involvement with local communities that were not engaged with urban national park sites.

Security dogs trained to detect the vapors in ammunition and bombs are being used in school district security for the first time. Calhoun County Schools in Alabama became the first district in the nation this year to pilot a vapor wake detection service with a canine officer.

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