At FSW we believe that one of the most critical aspects of our mission is to instill in children a connection with the natural world and to prepare them for a future in which the need for environmental awareness and action will only become more pressing. Since FSW’s founding in 1994, environmental studies have been woven into the curriculum, and the recent unification of our campus, the purchase of adjoining green space, and the establishment of the Longleaf Center for Environmental Learning have all expanded the possibilities for sustainability education.
Our campus features natural play areas, woodland trails, a wetlands area, two retention ponds, bird habitat areas, native plantings, and classroom gardens, all of which provide rich opportunities for place-based and project-based teaching, learning, and play. The school’s curriculum examines the interconnectedness between natural and human social systems, including ecological systems and biodiversity, air and water quality, energy and climate change, stewardship of land and water, recycling, composting, hazardous waste, and the disproportionate effects of these issues on socially and economically vulnerable communities. These topics are addressed in age-appropriate ways through curriculum units within the classroom, guided exploration and free play across the school grounds, and partnerships with local environmental organizations and sustainability projects within and beyond the Cape Fear River Basin. Our ultimate goal, as we continue to grow our program, is to draw students’ attention to the most important question of our time: How can humanity exist in harmony with nature in ways that support both present and future generations?