NYC DOE CTE | Cloud Partnership & EfS Programming

The Cloud Institute is proud to announce our new partnership with The NYC Department of Education's High School Career Technical Education (CTE) Office, Envirolution One, a leader in sustainability education and career development in NYC, green industry experts, and Rubicon Atlas, the Curriculum Mapping Software.
NYC High School Career and Tech Education has over 300 CTE programs in 120+ schools, serving more than 120,000 students annually. The goal of the CTE Sustainability Education Initiative,  is to educate for sustainability across all career pathways over the next several years.  In this first year, we will work with faculty from Automotive, Solar, Green Building, Electrical, and IT to develop, map and pilot exemplary units of study that meet the Cloud Institute's EfS Enduring Understandings, Standards and Performance Indicators, as well as industry standards appropriate to each career pathway. The exemplary units will be piloted during the 2015-16 school year. This program is one of the ways that educators and students in NYC can contribute to the goals of ONEnyc 2030, which encompasses The Mayor's Sustainability and Resiliency Initiatives.

TNT's Dramatic Difference Features Green Bronx Machine

Repost from:
Original Post Date: January 2014

Educator and Green Bronx Machine Founder, Stephen Ritz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz discuss urban farming, sustainable education and opportunities for youth in the Bronx.

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Mobile Edible Wall Units: Growing Healthy Food and Minds

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Original Post Date: January 2014

What do you get when you put an inspiring technology into the hands of high school students? You get real life applications of 21st Century Skills which can be translated into job skills in industries related to agriculture and the sciences.

The Mobile Edible Wall Unit, better known as a "MEWU", which is pronounced "mee woo", is the invention of Green Living Technologies, a Rochester, New York-based company founded by New Jersey native, George Irwin. These walls are increasingly being used in schools for indoor school gardens, in school greenhouses and are broadening the biology and science related learning taking place in high schools that have them.

We first heard about MEWUs from teacher Steve Ritz, who was the keynote speaker at the Green Schools Alliance Conference in New York a few years back. Steve was using the walls in his classroom at the time at Discovery High School in the Bronx. His students were keenly interested in the hands-on applications the walls provided and were seeing first hand what the technological applications were for growing plants and food. Fast forward to 2014 and some of these same students continue to be hired to work on professional job sites, using the skills they gained while incorporating Green Living Technologies' educational programs into their day to day class instruction.

Here in New Jersey, the first school to purchase a MEWU was Monroe Township High School, where Nancy Mitrocsak, the food service director for the district, learned about the walls through the New Jersey Farm to School Network and went on a mission to find funding to bring them to the high school. With the support of District Supervisor of Sciences and Social Studies, Bonnie Burke-Casaletto, the school incorporated the walls into their expanded greenhouse program and teacher Christian Jessop and his students have been using them ever since. In a recent email exchange, the team updated us on their progress, "As a quick and exciting update-we're collaborating with Helen in our Food Service department to harvest a complete wall of basil! It looks and smells wonderful and Mr. Jessop has done much under tough weather conditions during our holiday break to keep our student-created growth projects thriving on-site. Things are green and flourishing."

Meanwhile, at South Hunterdon High School in Tiffany Morey's Floral Design Class, FFA (Future Farmers of America) student Mitchell Haug contributed the following report about the use of a MEWU with fellow students Charles McDaniel, Patrick Charles, Collin Leary, and Isaiah Jones.

"Ever since we unloaded the Green Wall that was loaned to us by New Jersey Farm To School on December 6th and set it up in our Ag Shop, it's been nothing but good times. From packing the boxes with soil to seeding, watering, and overcoming a few engineering challenges, the Wall has provided us with a challenging yet rewarding learning experience.

As the five guys in the floral design class, we weren't always as excited when it came to putting together centerpieces or assembling corsages and boutonnieres, but we did all share a passion for agriculture. When our advisor came to us with the offer that we could use class time to grow and take care of plants in an innovative way, we were thrilled. It wasn't long before we were putting together the wall and loading it up with soil.

Since then we have seen promising results. While there were some early issues with a water recycling system and soil erosion, these issues have since been resolved and we have begun to see germination and the beginnings of life. We currently have six varieties of lettuce planted that we plan to use in the school's cafeteria and culinary classes. We look forward to continuing with the wall and seeing what we can produce!"

To learn more about the Mobile Edible Wall Unit, click here. Green Living Technologies and the New Jersey Farm to School Network are collaborating on a program to bring more MEWUs into New Jersey schools. If your school or district is interested in learning more, please email us at and put MEWU in the subject line.

Vertical Gardens Bring Greenery to Cities

Repost from:
Original Post Date: April 22, 2013

Stephen Ritz, a teacher in New York City public schools and the founder of Green Bronx Machine, shows how vertical “living wall” gardens can teach kids about protecting the environment and bring a little green to concrete jungles.

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Sustainable Jersey and The New Jersey Learns Program

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Original Post Date: February 15th, 2010

By Winnie Fatton of Sustainable Jersey

When I first heard about NJ Learns, it was an exciting, untried idea that the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was supporting. Teams of educators, admins, parents, municipal representatives, and the general public – anyone who was committed to Educating for Sustainability (EfS) – were invited to apply for the program. I was working on “Green Jobs for NJ,” which was a pilot project to infuse EfS into the curricula of Career and Technical Schools. I brought 2 teachers to the first training session – one from the Mercer County Vocational Technical School District and one from Essex County Vocational Technical School District. I felt that it would be a great opportunity to learn from a “master” and to introduce classroom teachers to what I believe should be one of the most important educational themes in our schools.

I believe that sustainability is a theme which offers teachers from almost any discipline a way to get students involved with issues that are significant and relevant to their daily lives and to their future career choices. At career and technical schools, for example, EfS could be incorporated into the construction and HVAC trades (think green, high performance buildings), landscaping (management of stormwater run-off, recapture/reuse of wastewater, xeriscaping and other low maintenance plantings), culinary arts (school gardens, safe food/local food, composting), automotive (hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid cars), or a multitude of other career clusters. These are the jobs of the future.

But green jobs aren’t the only reason to think about sustainability; there are so many other linkages to science, math, English, history, even graphic arts. It takes some creativity, but teachers can develop lessons that relate real time/real world issues to what students are studying. Equally important, teachers can help foster the creative thinking we will need to come up with the solutions to these major challenges.

Now, in my work with the Sustainable Jersey program – a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, control costs and save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term – I have the ability to work with a lot of different audiences. Sustainable Jersey offers over 64 different “actions” which municipalities can take to become more sustainable, from creating a Green Team, to doing energy audits for municipal buildings and establishing the carbon footprint of the municipality, to doing communication outreach and education. All of the actions in the program are supported by a series of tools which are available on the Sustainable Jersey website, as well as through training programs and workshops. Each action or “tool” is fully resourced and includes a description of the action: who should be involved, how much it will cost, how long it will take, as well as resources for helping municipalities to complete it.

My initial focus was on helping to develop “tools” which relate to the “education” sector – and in the second round of the program, Sustainable Jersey will be offering information about “Education for Sustainability” as well as “School Based Energy Conservation Programs.” The School Based Energy Conservation Programs focus on helping students, teachers and all school staff members to make behavioral changes, which can reduce energy consumption. Some participating schools have even reduced their energy bills by almost 20% through behavior modification alone. And the Education for Sustainability tool offers ideas and resources for teaching about sustainability, including, of course, the NJ Learns program.

Over 250 communities in NJ have signed up to become certified through the Sustainable Jersey program since its inception in February, 2009. Sustainable Jersey and NJ Learns offer opportunities for communities to share inspire and learn from one another as we all work together toward a sustainable future. By giving people an understanding of why it is important to be sustainable, as well as the tools we need to be a more sustainable society, we have begun to create a process that will foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve success. The knowledge that there are so many great people out there working toward a sustainable future is very gratifying, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.

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New Jersey Learns introduces teachers and community leaders to Education for Sustainability. Education for Sustainability (EfS) is a whole system approach to schools and communities learning together for a sustainable future and includes the Cloud Institute’s EfS Core Content Standards. The program brings community-based teams to participate in one year of introductory training, implementation, coaching and assessment activities. Want to participate? 2013-14 NJ Learns applications are due March 15th. Apply now.