APS News Release

Discovery Principal Receives Inaugural Greenprint Trailblazer Award

The New Award Program Honor Educational Leadership across Virginia  

WASHINGTON, D.C. Green Schools National Network (GSNN), a nonprofit committed to shaping healthy, equitable, and sustainable schools, awarded recipients across Virginia with the first-ever GreenPrint Trailblazer Awards at the Washington, DC stop on a five-city tour celebrating its debut book, “Trailblazers for Whole School Sustainability: Case Studies of Educators in Action.

The GreenPrint Trailblazer Awards honor schools, school districts, or individuals for their readiness to transform a school or district’s culture and practice, so students become changemakers, not just test-takers, and are prepared to live in and lead a sustainable future. GSNN’s work is informed by the GreenPrint, a framework for whole-school transformation that covers best practices in leadership, curriculum and instruction, culture and climate, and facilities and operations.

“These awards are an opportunity to honor innovative thinkers for their exceptional leadership and willingness to showcase how green schools are possible within the limits and structures of our public education system,” said GSNN Executive Director Jennifer Seydel, Ph.D. “We are so proud to recognize these individuals and districts for their outstanding displays of school transformation.”

The awards winners are:

  • Erin Russo, Principal at Discovery Elementary with Arlington Public Schools. Discovery Elementary sets the stage for the development of the skills necessary for the long-term stewardship of our world. The school was designed to be a zero-energy building, meaning that the amount of energy produced annually by on-site renewable energy sources is equal to the amount of energy used annually. The school has been a trailblazer for zero-energy schools, both in demonstrating performance and engaging students in the building as a teaching tool
  • Tim Cole, Sustainability Officer for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Tim was instrumental in the promotion and development of the first LEED-certified elementary School in Virginia, Hermitage Elementary School, and the first K-12 LEED Platinum transportation and maintenance facility in the country.
  • Kelly Hedrick, Principal of Old Donation School, with Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Kelly is an advocate for integrated instruction and project based learning and believes that education for the gifted should be for all. She has presented at numerous Green Schools Conferences and been conferences highlighted in webinars on developing teachers looking at needs of the whole child.
  • Josh Douds, Principal at Centreville Elementary with Fairfax County Public Schools. Josh has been involved with GSNN since the beginning, with Centreville Elementary being one of the early network partners. He has been highly supportive of developing the green hour of power at his building, which is related to sustainable goals. Josh has presented at the Green Schools Conference numerous times and continues to expand the understanding of sustainability for his staff in implementing the GreenPrint.
  • Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) and Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence for the Leadership Impact System. VBCPS was the pilot and initiated the leadership summit with Harvard University and Auburn University and helped GSNN define how they work with leadership teams. They are focused on the whole district vs. small initiatives and have successfully implemented every goal set and continue to blaze trails for other districts across the county.


Green Schools National Network (GSNN)’s mission is to shape healthy, equitable, and sustainable schools where children thrive and learn to steward the environments and communities they call home. Since 2007, GSNN has used a holistic approach in its work with schools, districts, organizations, and individual educators to transform schools from good to green. GSNN’s work is informed by its GreenPrint, a framework for transformation that covers best practices in leadership, curriculum and instruction, culture and climate, and facilities and operations. To learn more, visit greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org.

In Trailblazers for Whole School Sustainability, educators and school leaders share stories highlighting best practices and lessons learned in their pursuit of health, equity, and sustainability. The book is organized according to the four impact systems in GSNN’s GreenPrint: Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Culture and Climate, and Facilities and Operations. Each section of the book features four case studies that explore various aspects of these systems, from visionary leadership and culturally relevant teaching to place-based education, sustainable school food systems, and net-positive campuses. Every case study concludes with a “Learning from…” section where readers can find actionable tips, recommendations, and best practices for beginning their journey toward whole-school sustainability.