10 CT, NY schools chosen for launch of LIS Schools network

A group of middle school students and their teacher on an observation deck overlooking Long Island Sound.
A group of middle school students and their teacher on an observation deck overlooking Long Island Sound.

Elementary, middle and high school students, teachers and the communities of 10 public schools in urban and suburban areas will comprise the new Long Island Sound Schools network, committing to the protection of local watersheds, the Sound and our one global ocean.

With funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study and facilitated by Connecticut Sea Grant and Mercy University, the program supports schools that implement a school or community-based project and create a plan to increase ocean literacy by engaging students, families and the public.

All the schools are located within the Long Island Sound watershed, from inland areas with waterways that flow into the estuary to shoreline communities. Program funding will provide stipends for lead teachers at each school and up to $5,000 per school to implement projects. The schools will also have access to a network of educators, connections with scientists, community organizations and stewardship sites, and possible travel funds for conference presentations.

“We have all been inspired by a teacher who has opened our minds to new possibilities and ambitions,” said Mark A. Tedesco, director of the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office. “The new Long Island Sound Schools network will support schools, teachers, and students in learning about Long Island Sound and actively engaging in its protection and conservation.”

The project began with a kick-off meeting of member schools on Jan. 4. The schools will be implementing their projects starting on Jan. 15 and concluding on Aug. 15, as well as planning a student symposium and teacher retreat.

“The Long Island Sound Schools network builds on more than 20 years of success with the Long Island Sound Mentor Teacher program,” said Diana Payne, CT Sea Grant education coordinator. “It’s the next logical step—from fostering educators to incorporate Long Island Sound into their curriculum at the classroom level and expanding it to the school and community level.”

The program is modeled on the National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration’s (NOAA) Ocean Guardian Schools and the international Blue Schools network.

“This project is a wonderful opportunity for school communities to strengthen their connection to Long Island Sound and our global ocean, inspiring the next generation of ocean stewards,” said Meghan Marrero, professor of secondary science education and co-director of the Mercy University Center for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education. Payne and Marrero are co-leaders of the project.

The network schools in Connecticut are: Flanders Elementary, East Lyme; Mystic River Magnet; Torrington High; Trumbull High; Walter Fitzgerald Campus, Southport; and Waterford High. The network schools in New York are: Jefferson Elementary, New Rochelle; PS175X, Bronx; Smithtown High School West; and Trinity Elementary, New Rochelle.

For information about the program, contact Diana Payne at: diana.payne@uconn.edu.