Ms. Schurdak has been working as an administrator with this age group for over 20 years and is excited to join Pingry, having been struck “by the commitment of the Middle School faculty to educating middle schoolers… They are both serious and joyful about their work.”
Stewardship & Sustainability
At Pingry, we strive to create world citizens who value the people and land around them.
Our three campuses provide the perfect backdrop for students to develop an appreciation for nature and the environment. Students develop a sense of place that then serves as a starting point for exploration of the world beyond.
As mentioned above, Pingry’s campus boasts a wide array of sustainable features that are used by students and lower our overall carbon footprint.
Student-Led Initiatives and Curricular Connections
Short Hills Campus
At our Short Hills Campus, the Big Blue Garden—a well-used learning garden and outdoor laboratory, of sorts, created by students, faculty, and staff—allows K-2 students to dig deep into interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking, and collaboration. Students have the opportunity to:
Work together to separate school trash for composting and prepare soil beds for a range of flowers and vegetables;
Employ their math skills by calculating optimal grid spacing for crops;
Sharpen their research and writing skills by studying the garden's plants, including its herb garden, and describing the many sights and smells;
Enjoy the fruits of their labor by sharing their produce in the lunchroom;
Practice mindfulness techniques in the garden's "quiet classroom";
Hone their artistic skills, using the garden's natural surroundings as inspiration during art classes.
A second garden, the Three Sisters Garden, exists on the opposite side of the Short Hills Campus. Constructed by Grade 4 students and used in Grade 4 social studies and science classes, it reflects Lenape culture. Each spring, classes plant corn, beans, and squash (considered the Lenape's "three sisters"), and harvest them when school resumes in September, providing a hands-on learning experience so students can better understand Lenape farming practices and food.
Basking Ridge Campus
Students at our Basking Ridge Campus can choose from many courses with an emphasis on sustainability and environmental practices. In addition, many courses outside of those with “environmental” in their name use Pingry’s farm, forest and composter as experiential laboratories for their work. Pingry’s Upper and Middle School science courses perform labs on anatomy, food webs, soil and water chemistry, and many more. Many language classes grow vegetables on the farm and use them to create food representing the diversity of the cultures around the world. Choral groups have used outdoor spaces to perform Appalachian songs in a woodland setting and art classes use the campus as a subject and canvas for studies on movement, still life, materials and more. The list goes on.
A few specific courses are highlighted below.
Art and Nature
At our Basking Ridge campus, we charge students to create art with two principles in mind: environmental sustainability and a spirit of adventure. Students plant and harvest plants to make natural dyes, paint murals in outdoor spaces and build sculpture with materials they find along our campus trails.
Environmental Science Class
In Environmental Science, students use Pingry’s ample campus resources to anchor learning about many environmental issues. Over the course of the year, students explore topics such as climate change, pollution, waste management and endangered species, with a specific focus on local, tangible action.
Environmental History Class
Enterprise Risk Management
Stewardship and Sustainability isn't just about having a green thumb! At Pingry, it's a thoughtful and holistic approach to safeguarding our resources—physical, strategic, and economic—and strategic risk-taking, to ensure a bright future for the institution.