School’s out for the summer!
It’s hard to believe that it’s already late June and I’ve been working with Arlington Public Schools (APS) in support of APS GO! for six months already. I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone for being so welcoming, friendly and helpful! The first few months were filled with planning meetings with APS leadership and figuring out challenges and opportunities. After that, I started meeting with school principals and program managers, talking about sustainable transportation and how the students and staff worked with each school’s program goals and values.
Several themes have come out of my conversations:
- The APS community places high value on being environmental stewards. Schools are surrounded by wonderful gardens and green spaces, and learning about the environment and ways to go green is included in every grade.
- APS recognizes that its population is growing, but with limited space, needs to find ways to better utilize what it currently has while finding creative ways to grow.
- APS sees itself as a huge community that is still competitive with each other. Schools compete to see how they can grow and excel within their school, as well as with the district.
These themes directly relate to the work Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) does to support the transportation goals of Arlington County: promote safety, advance environmental sustainability and move more people without increasing traffic. And the competitive side? That’s where ATP’s Champions for Schools comes in.
Champions is a recognition program that rewards each APS site for the number of transportation-related activities they pledge to do and complete. Schools can challenge themselves to do more and move up from Bronze, Silver, Gold, and maybe all the way up to Platinum Level! The higher the level, the more involved the activities will be, but each level is designed for staff, parents and students in mind. Some of the activities will be really interactive, such as participating in Walk/Bike to School Day, and some of it is community-oriented, like adopting ART or Metro bus stops near their locations. Committing to reducing the amount of car traffic at each site is a slightly harder task, but one that everyone can strive for in the name of safety and a greener school. Champions encourages little steps that move towards a bigger change for the future.
While you are enjoying your well-earned summer vacation, I will be planning ways to make multimodal transportation fun and easy, and to help develop an Arlington culture around sustainable school transportation.
See you in the fall!