GREEN SCHOOL CERTIFIED
Ohr Chadash Academy is a certified Green School through MAEOE (Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education) and the 2016 recipient of the Pearlstone Green School Partner of the Year.
Ohr Chadash Academy (OCA) strives for excellence in education. Students are empowered by the Torah-driven curriculum that emphasizes the inherent kedusha in both Judaics and General Studies. OCA believes everything has its place in Hashem’s world, which is why environmental education is so important. Students are encouraged to look beyond what is in front of them whether in science or Chumash.
Starting in the Early Childhood Center, OCA’s students are encouraged to participate in the learning process. Activities like going outside on walks, discovering new things outdoors and then bringing them inside and exploring the world around them, provides the students with the knowledge they need to grow and succeed. Through traditional classroom instruction infused with an environmental consciousness, children are not only taught academic skills, but also life skills such as time management, responsibility and organization as well as a love of what is around them and an increased understanding of why taking care of the Earth will improve their lives.
OCA’s Environmental Club has been instrumental in encouraging the entire student body and staff to further their thinking on nature and the environment. With days like “Trash free Tuesdays” and plants put around the classes to extend and freshen air quality, students are exposed to environmental awareness inside and outside of the classroom. We are fortunate to welcome environmental education into our everyday practices.
Students are excited to learn about the environment and all it has to offer. Each class at Ohr Chadash Academy incorporates environmentally friendly lessons into the curriculum. Click here to read about specific green components of the curriculum in the classrooms.
Some program highlights that OCA is doing as a school are:
Elementary School Environmental Club
Students in kindergarten – fifth grade enjoy being a part of the Environmental Club. Students in this group are excited about helping the environment and passionate about what they are teaching the rest of the student body and the world around them.
Tu B’Shvat is the holiday of the trees and a day focused on the trees and their environment. School-wide, students celebrate by eating the seven fruits of Eretz Yisrael – the fruits of our homeland, and also engage in a brachot bee where they learn each bracha that is said prior to eating certain foods.
Students engage in conserving energy by turning off the lights and air conditioners when appropriate. Students are assigned as energy monitors to ensure that this is getting done. Being an energy monitor also allows for a student to further his/her awareness throughout the day to reduce energy consumption. Stickers have been placed over the light switches that read “Don’t waste- please remember to turn off this light” to further remind faculty and students.
Partnership with Pearlstone
Our kindergarten students had a wonderful experience visiting Pearlstone for a memorable field trip. Students were exposed to the outdoors by learning about animals, planting, and the overall environment. Partnering with Pearlstone has been crucial to OCA’s environmental studies. The teachers & staff have had a few professional developments that addressed environmental education and how to implement environmental education into spelling, language, Judaic studies, etc.
Jewish National Fund Tree Project
As a tzedakah (service) project for the entire school, spearheaded by the first grade, students collected money in order to plant trees in Israel. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a non-profit organization that has evolved into a global environmental leader by planting more than 250 million trees, building over 240 reservoirs and dams, developing over 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 2,000 parks, and providing the infrastructure for over 1,000 communities in Israel. The school raised enough money to purchase 10 trees in Eretz Yisrael. Each child/class who gave money got to write a message on a leaf or fruit and hang it on the tree. The tree was made out of recycled Trader Joe’s bags.
All elementary students celebrated this holiday by going to Patapsco State Park. Children enjoyed water hikes, playing on the all natural playground, having a bonfire, and running around playing tag games. Not only were we celebrating Lag Ba’Omer, but also the environment and what wonderful things it has to offer.
We celebrate the environment and explore many aspects of nature. Through student-driven activities, students navigate through hands-on activities, the garden, and more.
The Early Childhood Center’s playground is environmentally friendly by being a natural playground. Structures are built from upcycled materials, tree bark and non toxic materials. The children love climbing and playing on the structures, knowing at a young age that these structures were made from environmentally friendly materials. Children are also encouraged to use what is around them (from the outside) to play with ie. sticks, leaves, rocks, etc.
Students had an excellent lesson on worm composting given by one of OCA’s former student’s grandmother. Mrs. Gunzburg taught the children about composting and why it is useful. Students learned what to save from their lunches to feed the worms.
Students are lucky to have a few garden plots on campus. They are taught the cycle of planting and harvesting by planting bulbs. Morah Anne and the Environmental Club is in charge of keeping up the gardens and helping the other students with it. An edible garden is underway and students have planted a few vegetables already. Once the seeds bloom, students will pick the harvest and enjoy as a healthy snack. Students will use their composted soil in the garden.
The ECC uses upcycled materials in their classroom for various purposes. Examples include tree bark used as “benches” for the kids to sit on while reading. A cave was made out of bark while the students were learning about bears and hibernation. Soda liter bottles are used to house rocks and soil for an on-going hydroponics lesson.