The Greene School (TGS) is a public charter high school and Rhode Island's only Expeditionary Learning School, serving a diverse demographic of students across 19 school districts. Through the context of local and global challenges, TGS meets its mission of developing 21st-century systems thinkers by immersion in a culture of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. TGS believes in engaging directly students with real-world academic tasks.
Developing environmental literacy is the heart of TGS. Teachers deliver the majority of curriculum through critical environmental topics of the 21st century: energy, food, waste, biodiversity, genetics, and sustainable development. Through multidisciplinary units called Learning Expeditions, students delve into understanding the complexity of environmental challenges as they consider solutions from diverse perspectives. Each Expedition is a carefully designed series of student-centered experiences. Students transition from building background knowledge to learning academic and technical skills from experts in the field. For example, during the ninth-grade Energy Expedition, students analyze the trade-offs of various energy production methods by visiting a nuclear reactor at the University of Rhode Island, a for-profit trash-to-energy facility, and the Aperion Center for Sustainable Living. This Learning Expedition culminates with students conducting an energy audit and making energy conservation plans for the school.
Each Expedition topic culminates in a final product for a real and authentic audience. The final product for the Food Expedition is the annual 100-Mile-Radius Dinner. During this event, which features a meal created from seasonally appropriate local foods, ninth-grade students entertain guests by presenting projects created while learning about food and sustainability. The projects exhibited at the last year's event included life-changing personal food manifestos, scientific reports about the soil health of local farms, and student-built solar cookers.
Crew, another aspect of student life at TGS, is an advisory-like structure that promotes wellness and connection to the natural world. At the start of every school year, students participate in an overnight outdoor experience with their Crews called Wilderness. Students hike, prepare meals, and complete service work in local Department of Environmental Management Areas. As students progress through grade levels, the experience gets more challenging. The Wilderness experience consistently is a transformational experience for students inter- and intra-personally, and develops their connection to the natural world.