The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Brock Environmental Center is a beacon for energy efficiency and conservation, sitting on 122 acres along the Lynnhaven River and featuring living shorelines, oyster reefs and 3,600 species of flora and fauna. And it will soon be home to a classroom of Virginia Beach City Public School (VBCPS) students.
The Environmental Studies Program for high school juniors and seniors will begin in 2020 at the Brock Center, following the school board’s approval Nov. 27 of an operating budget that will fund staff, professional development and transportation to and from the center. The classroom itself will be built thanks to a generous $1.5 million dollar donation from one of the center’s namesakes, Joan Brock.
The CBF, which has partnered with VBCPS for 20 years, provides educational materials and hosts student field trips as well as teacher professional development workshops.
“The evolution of this partnership is only natural,” said VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. “The Brock Center has been a national example of environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. Our school system strives to educate the next generations of leaders in those fields. This continued collaboration really puts us on the front lines of environmental education.”
The Environmental Studies Program will provide students with real-world experiences and the opportunity to broaden their understanding of sustainability issues through learning projects and interdisciplinary instruction. The program, which will split the day between the student’s home school and the Brock Center classroom, will align with VBCPS’ Graduate Profile to encourage students to be inquirers, thinkers and problem solvers.
Curriculum development begins in the spring of 2019, with applications for the first class of 50 juniors and seniors accepted that winter. Subsequent school years will accommodate up to 100 upperclassmen and there will eventually be summer programs offered to students and teachers both regionally and throughout VBCPS.