News from the Superintendent

A periodic update from David Fleishman

In recent weeks, there have been many articles in the media about the passion and commitment that young people bring to the issue of sustainability. Here in the Newton Public Schools, many of our students are at the forefront of this issue, as evidenced by their powerful speeches to our School Committee last week.

While we have had excellent high school elective courses for many years, sustainability concepts are now integrated into core science courses at all levels. When I met with 6th and 8th grade students last spring to discuss their Global Goals and Generation Citizen projects, I was struck by how knowledgeable they were about the science behind the environmental challenges we face. Just last week at an all school assembly, 5th grade students at Angier educated their peers on sustainable practices both at school and at home.

I look forward to strengthening our own sustainable practices as a district while continuing to provide our students with multiple opportunities to learn about, engage in, model, and actively support a more sustainable planet.

Global Goals at Oak Hill

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Sustainability in the Newton Public Schools

The Newton Public Schools has long been involved in and taken action in support of sustainable practices. Recently, the district renewed its commitment to sustainability with the formation of the School Sustainability Working Group. In addition to efforts such as installation of solar panels on school buildings and LED lighting in schools, the working group is exploring new practices in the areas of energy, food service, recycling, and transportation. You can find out more on the new webpage at:

A few examples of initiatives underway include:

  • Adoption of a recycling policy to confirm commitment to recycling in schools
  • Installation of bike racks and shelters at schools to promote environmentally friendly transportation
  • Pilot composting programs at two elementary schools
  • Use of compostable lunch trays
  • Elimination of styrofoam and plastic straws in cafeterias (straws available if necessary)

Last Monday, the School Committee reviewed an update on the sustainability work being done throughout the district. You can view the presentation here. There is more work to be done and we look forward to working with our students, staff, and community partners to improve and expand sustainable practices in the Newton Public Schools.

Sheltered Bike Rack at Newton North

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Our Community Partners

NPS is fortunate to have strong community partners with expertise and experience in addressing environmental and sustainability issues. Through development of a Climate Action Plan, promotion of the Newton PowerChoice program, and multiple initiatives within city departments, it is a clear that sustainability is a priority for the City of Newton. Participating in these initiatives and encouraging school departments to do the same is a way in which we can work together to make real progress. The dedicated group of volunteers at School Connections Green Newton is helping us to engage families in this work at the school level and we are grateful for their partnership.

Students at Work

Sustainability has taken on a greater role in the Newton Public Schools and students are serving as strong leaders on the issues. At both North and South, students have the opportunity to take sustainability courses. In the classes, students investigate solutions to real world problems and work with community partners like Safe Routes to Schools, Bike Newton, Green City Growers, and more. Coursework often culminates in projects and community presentations related to recycling, pesticides, consumerism, renewable energy, and composting. You can find out more about senior projects on sustainability work here.

This past fall, North hosted a Sustainability Day - a day of workshops, presentations, conversations and activities in which students, staff, and faculty learned about environmental and sustainability issues from their peers and community partners. South is planning a similar day in February focused more specifically on the issue of climate change.

At the K-8 level, sustainability is a part of all science curriculum, seeking to connect students to the natural world and develop resiliency. Partnering with local scientists, getting outside and being "citizen scientists," and developing solutions to real world problems through project-based learning are ways in which students learn about the world around them and human impact on the planet. Whether it is designing a gaming app to educate about climate change or creating a "cozy house" to learn about energy efficiency, NPS students are learning how they can make a difference in creating a more sustainable world.

Newton North Sustainability Day