You can’t describe the Lucy School, a preschool-through-8th grade private school midway between Middletown and Myersville, without talking about the boots. To me, the boots symbolize the approach this school takes to its educational mission, which
founding director Victoria Brown began in 2002 to embody the values of arts and the environment in secondary education. Don’t get the wrong idea—they follow the required Maryland State Department of Education requirements and mirror many Frederick County Public Schools logistical practices (closings, holidays etc.).
Yet putting emphasis on the arts and on outdoor exploration (the reason every child has boots at the school, for woods play and for regular lessons in the “waterfall”—on a pond that teems with life the students study for science and other lessons), sustainability and art is an approach that appears to pay dividends when you watch the curious, engaged students. (There are currently 120 students at the school, with preschool, elementary and middle school occupying a farmhouse, former milking parlor, a barn and undoubtedly one of the most sustainable secondary school buildings in the US.) “How can you hope that children will grow up to care about the environment, if they have not had the opportunity to play, explore and learn in nature?” says Brown.
- Cork floors, bamboo cabinets with wheat board shelves (all sustainable building materials)
- Recycled blue jean/newspaper insulation in the walls
- Rainwater used to supply plumbing
- Reuse of beams and barn wood in a renovated barn
- Green roof
- School powered by solar panels, geothermal energy
- Environmental education (including a biodiversity day)
- Lessons from local farmers on local food and growing blueberries, figs, apples, pears and paw paws as well as a student nurtured school garden
- Tea tree oil for cleaning instead of harsh chemicals
- Natural lighting enhanced by solar magnification
Along with being a prestigious US Department of Education Green Ribbon School, Lucy School built one of the few LEED Platinum secondary schools in the country. LEED is a national certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage energy and resource-efficient buildings. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Platinum is the highest level, earning 90 points for various construction and building practices. See Lucy School’s scores here.
Lucy School’s first preschool students are just beginning to emerge from college now, and while not everyone opts for the arts or environmental science or sustainability, the staff feels assured that their “sustainable” education and surroundings will increase their resiliency. “In situations of stress, these kids know how to turn to arts and nature” for strength, says Amy Bolstridge, a teacher at the school.
To read more about Lucy School, click here.