“By demonstrating crop growth in the colonies side by side with flowers grown for the Shabbat table, bitter herbs for Pesach, and fresh fruits and vegetables, Gesher’s student garden nourishes both the secular and Jewish lives of our children. Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Torah- all these subjects come alive quite literally as our garden constantly changes to reflect the needs of the community.” – Michelle Nash, Alumni Parent
Gesher JDS is much more than a building. We are using our beautiful heavily wooded natural surroundings – an unparalleled large tract of land in this area – to develop “Gesher Green,” a unique, hands-on ecology-based model for Jewish learning.
Outdoor Learning Stations
Gesher Green focuses on the habitats found on our campus, including
In Middle School, we move beyond our local environment and study regional and international issues such as land and land-use, sustainability, water, and world-wide water use challenges, and energy.
Each grade grows a garden that coordinates with one of their curriculum areas.
Fairfax County recycles paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and plastic bottles. Every classroom has a recycle bin for this refuse. In addition, we also recycle inkjet cartridges, glue sticks, markers and pens, batteries, and old gift cards. The gift cards are turned into jewelry by a member of our community (a fine example of “reuse” which is better than recycle), batteries are returned to a local battery collection facility, and the other items are sent to a recycling company, Teracycle.
At the end of the daily lunch period, students, teachers, and staff members sort their scraps. Plastic bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper are recycled through Fairfax County. The middle school “Compost Crew” takes food scraps outside to the compost tumbler, which makes topsoil for our gardens.
The environment is a focus for three Jewish holidays each year. They are Sukkot (a traditional harvest holiday in the fall), Tu B’Shvat (called the “birthday of the trees;” it is the original Earth Day) in the winter, and Shavuot (the grain harvest holiday) in the spring.
Sixth Grade Teva Trip (“Bring It Back To School” Project)
Our 6th-grade students spend four days each spring at TEVA, where they learn and experience Jewish outdoor environmental education. Each class designs and then implements a ‘Bring It Back to School’ project for the following year. Recent projects include creating a trail through the woods and developing signage to explain various Gesher Green areas.
Seasonal Nature Walks
We offer Gesher families informal learning opportunities on weekends as well as participation in projects like Cornell’s Great Backyard Bird Count or Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.
In 2009, a sustainability committee was formed with members of our faculty, board of Trustees, administration, and parent community. The purpose of this group is to determine our “carbon footprint” in areas like energy use and water use, and to find ways to reduce it.