During my first visit to the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), Daisy, a black hen, laid an egg at my feet as the students eagerly acquainted me with their vegetable beds. Just one of many astonishing firsts Ive experienced at this innovative green public school on the Chicagos underserved southwest side.
AGCs mission is to empower children to be mindful leaders in their community and the world beyond. Schoolyard chickens and edible gardens are examples of how environmental sustainability is embedded throughout AGCs curriculum, daily practices and culture. Math and science are taught through solar panels, a demonstration wind turbine, rain barrels and vermicomposting bins. Students take part in daily yoga, wellness and nutrition instruction and enjoy healthy, organic, scratch-made breakfast and lunch in their zero-waste cafeteria.
Now in the sixth year of operation, this tuition-free, open-enrollment school currently serves 350 K-6 grade students, composed of 91% minority, 79% low-income and 20% special-ed children. An International Baccalaureate school committed to academic excellence, AGC students have outperformed their nearest public school by 33% in state testing. I first learned about the school while writing a series about pioneering green women in Chicagoland, which featured Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, AGC’s founder. Recognized by Forbes in 2013 as one of the nations top five gamechangers in education,
Ippel notes, Our larger vision is focused on systemic change and inspiring the way society educates future generations. The Academy incubates innovations and is committed to open sourcing best practices with bold plans to positively impact 20 million students by 2020. AGC has welcomed over 6,000 visitors from around the world, developed a Sustainability Schools Handbook, and helped create the first school garden food safety manual adopted by CPS. Ippel and her world-class team advance AGCs vision widely, from TEDx talks to global forums. Accolades for AGC include the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge Gold with Distinction Award from Michelle Obama, one of the nations first Green Ribbon Schools Award, and recognition by Mayor Emmanuel as an exemplary model for Chicago.
A showcase school for learning in the 21st century, AGC is planning to build the first net-positive energy, urban farm campus in the country. This dream campus will include vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, a greenhouse, and a native forest with walking trails. Power will be generated by wind, solar and geothermal energy, and water will be collected and reused on-site. An engaging indoor and outdoor learning environment will follow The Third Teacher philosophy outlined by Winnetka designer Bruce Mau and CannonDesign.
So captivated by this groundbreaking school and its nurturing of next generation changemakers, my initial blogpost turned to personal action. I joined AGCs board of directors, co-chair the upcoming Chefs Playground gala, and our family foundation has donated a challenge grant to encourage others to join this cause. My enthusiasm is shared by Bon Appétit Management Companys CEO Fedele Bauccio, 14 top chefs including Tony Mantuano, Paul Kahan, Stephanie Izard and Jeff Mauro, and 2 rave mixologists who will come together to celebrate this school and movement at Chefs’ Playground on May 15th. While Daisy won’t be there to egg us on, join the party to eat up all that AGC has to offer!
- Second Annual Chefs’ Playground, Thursday, May 15, 6 pm, Terzo Piano at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago
- On Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, eat at über-green Hannah’s Bretzel – 25% of revenues will be donated to AGC
See this video from Chefs’ Playground in 2013:
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Written by Amanda Hanley. This post was first featured on Make It Better here.