The mission of Aurora Charter School’s authorizer, Osprey Wilds (OW) Environmental Learning Center, is to instill a connection and commitment to the environment in people of all communities through experiential learning. OW defines environmental education as the implementation of values and strategies that foster learning and create environmentally literate citizens who engage in creating healthy outcomes for individuals, communities, and the Earth. The overarching goal of environmental education is an environmentally literate citizenry. The test of environmental literacy is the capacity of an individual to work individually and collectively toward sustaining a healthy natural environment. This requires sufficient awareness, knowledge, skills, and attitudes in order to create a healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.
Aurora’s approach to environmental education (EE) is to incorporate it into our curriculum as much as possible. In addition to EE embedded into our curriculum, each class creates environmental projects during the school year. This project is displayed in the hallway for all students to see. Each spring, Aurora plans an environmental fair for students and their families to come together to celebrate Earth Day and learn more about taking care of the environment. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and Distance Learning, we were unable to conduct our EE fair during the 2019-2021 school years. Each grade level is also expected to plan two field trips per year with an environmental focus.
Each grade level has an Environmental Education (EE) classroom goal and assessment format. These goals consider students age and educational benchmarks. For example, Pre-K focuses on identifying recyclable materials and how to recycle them, and third grade completes a water sampling activity. Aurora uses Indicator Areas (below) to develop students environmental literacy: Awareness, Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills, and Action. Specific lesson plans and goals are set in place to address Environmental Literacy and assessments are completed to ensure that students have grasped the concepts.