The Lower Merion Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) recently named Penn Valley Elementary School as the winner of the 2020 "Go for the Green Education Award" for their array of campus greening and environmental stewardship initiatives. The Township's "Go for the Green" award program serves to encourage sensitivity to the environment and to recognize the efforts of those who are working to make the Lower Merion community a better place for future generations.
Under the leadership of Principal Scott Mitchell and teacher Joe Mudd, along with enthusiastic support from many students, staff and parents, Penn Valley has long been committed to supporting green education and sustainability initiatives in our community.
Over the past several years, Mr. Mudd has led efforts to incrementally plant a grove of native redbud trees in the first-grade playground area. With financial assistance from Penn Valley's Home & School Association (HSA) and operational support from District Buildings & Grounds crew, trees have been planted in each of the last three years to create a beautifully layered grove under the campus' existing oak trees. This grove replaces non-native turf grasses and serves as an important source of nectar for early season native bees. First-grade classes and the Penn Valley Green Council help with tree plantings while also learning about the importance of native trees and land stewardship.
Other teachers at Penn Valley are active in outdoor education for children as well. Fourth and fifth-grade teachers Andy Davis and Chris Vaccaro regularly engage their classes in vegetable-planting, cover-cropping and installation of a variety of native plants throughout campus.
Parents are also heavily involved in supporting the school's green education programs as volunteers work with teachers in the vegetable gardens to teach students about sustainable gardening, including how to use cover-crops for carbon sequestration and how to maintain plants organically using leaf compost collected on-site. Parents have funded a variety of native plant installations throughout campus and work to maintain Penn Valley's Children's Garden, among several other on-going projects.
Penn Valley, along with this year's other winners, will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony on September 15. For more information about the ceremony or to RSVP for the event, please contact Holly Colllo via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.