We are a community of self-determined learners, engaged in sustainable transformation.

Escuela Verde learners develop, research, work, and produce their own projects. Projects that mean something. Projects that prove growth. Projects that matter to them and to our community.

Working in small advisories of 18 students, Escuela Verde students collaborate with their educational advisors to define and meet their own vision of success. Students co-develop a Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) with their educational advisor.

At Escuela Verde, we follow the EdVisions Project-Based Learning model. The school is designed to serve students interested in sustainability, student-led learning, and restorative justice.

View Intro to Project-Based Learning – Courtesy of EdVisions Schools (Via Youtube)

Our Mission

Escuela Verde cultivates a community that is participatory, just, sustainable, and peaceful.

We live our vision through graduating reflective high school students prepared to live happy, healthy, meaningful lives; collaborating with the community to create a strong sense of place and skills to flourish without harm; providing staff who model our vision and embrace education as liberation; engaging urban youth by adhering to an ecopedagogical praxis; developing biliteracy and honoring linguistic and cultural identities by engaging in translanguaging practices; and offering immersion opportunities for those interested in transformative education.

We graduate reflective high school students prepared to live happy, healthy, meaningful lives.

At Escuela Verde, the students we serve are our top priority. We truly believe that education is “an instrument of liberation”; our hope is that, when students embrace education as the key to their own liberation, they will forge their own path to a happy, healthy, meaningful life. We help students to do this by providing them with opportunities to grow academically, socially, and emotionally.


  • Rigorous, self-directed project-based curriculum designed through student-advisor collaboration.
  • Math curriculum based on Common Core Math Standards that allows every student to start at their own level and push themselves.
  • Reading curriculum based on student choice and the latest theories of adolescent reading development.
  • Hands-on science curriculum based on Next Generation Science Standards.

Emotional Growth:

  • Restorative Justice practices woven into school culture.
  • Students trained in as Restorative Justice leaders within the school.
  • Small school atmosphere promotes strong relationships.
  • Overnight experiences develop reflective practice that helps to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop student’s capacity to contribute to their communities.

Social Opportunities:

  • One-room-schoolhouse feel encourages collaboration and camaraderie among students and staff.
  • Extra-curricular clubs such as Rocket Club and Theater Troupe take students out into the community.
  • Internship and work study opportunities bring students into local business and organizations for real world experience.
  • Athletics such as basketball and volleyball encourage teamwork and healthy living.

We collaborate with the community to create a strong sense of place and skills to flourish without harm.

The students of Escuela Verde are encouraged to see themselves as members of a community – within the school, in their neighborhood, in their city, in any number of self-identified groups and as part of a global community. As a school, we foster opportunities for students to connect with these various communities on a regular basis – sometimes in a whole-school mandatory setting, and sometimes on the basis of interest. These opportunities extend beyond the school day into extra-curricular clubs and after-school activities. Our students have also received grants and scholarships from organizations prominent in our community such as the State Farm Youth Advisory Board and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

Some of our 2017 collaborators . . .

  • Arts at Large
  • BeePods
  • Knowledge is Power
  • Krav Maga Milwaukee
  • Lead to Succeed
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering
  • Milwaukee Repertory Theater
  • Next.cc
  • TRUESkool
  • United Way
  • Urban Ecology Center
  • Urban Underground

We provide staff who model our vision and embrace education as liberation.

Escuela Verde staff come from diverse backgrounds, but all share the same belief: that education is the key to personal liberation, that students must be owners of their education, and that learning is a life-long journey we are all traveling.

The Role of the Advisor

At Escuela Verde, the staff are advisors, rather than teachers. Rather than acting as “the sage on the stage” imparting knowledge on students, we see ourselves as “the guide on the side” working alongside students as they forge their own learning path. We use our experience and expertise to help students, but we do not have all the answers. We call on our connections with educators and experts from the community when a student wants to learn more about a topic beyond our knowledge.

Life-long Learners

Escuela Verde staff continually participate in professional development. Some highlights include:

  • Environmental education at Wisconsin Green School’s No Teacher Left Inside Conference.
  • Social justice workshops at the Education for Liberation Network’s Free Minds Free People Conference.
  • Intensive reading and math workshops through our partnership with CESA#1.
  • Learning to care for ourselves so we can care for others through the Wisdom Walk to Self-Mastery by the Nsoroma Home for Healing and Higher Community.
  • Staff currently in PhD and Master’s programs, as well as staff working on a variety of additional teaching certifications.
  • Staff have been active on such local and national boards as Serve Marketing, Latino Task Force of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Alverno’s College Research Center for Women and Girls, Milwaukee Urban Gardens and North American Association of Environmental Educators.

We engage urban youth by adhering to an ecopedagogical praxis.

Young people in Milwaukee are hungering for education that means something. With a graduation rate of 62% as of 2012, Milwaukee’s youth need to see the relevance of attending and completing high school, and Escuela Verde is providing them with that relevant inspiration. We hold project-based ecopedagogy at the heart of what we do, offering young people a culture of sustainability and peace based on cooperation, not competition and built on the beliefs of such educational philosophers as Paulo Friere, Moacir Gadotti, Richard Kahn, and Levana Saxon. For more on ecopedagogy, see our FAQs section.

Youth Participatory Ecojustice Action Research Projects

As a Senior Capstone, students are required to develop a project that combines service learning, ecopedagogical praxis, youth participatory action research, and the dissertation process. Some examples from our 2013-2014 Seniors include:

  • Jene Tate: How does modeling raptivism affect youth perspective on themselves and their community?
  • Leslie Alvarez: In what ways does Mexican American cultural identity affect the influence for healthy living on the South Side of Milwaukee?
  • Cheyenne Preston: In what ways do teen’s perceptions of healthy foods affect their willingness to try healthy food or new food, their excitement around cooking new recipes and their access to healthy recipes and food choice?
  • Ty Morton: In what ways do people’s perceptions about bats affect their interests, knowledge and actions toward the well-being of this mammal?
  • Cesar Becerra: In what ways can alternative forms of transportation like biking affect the well-being of neighborhoods and the environment?

We offer immersion opportunities for those interested in transformative education.

Community members from all backgrounds who are passionate about our youth have been welcomed into the Escuela Verde community. The greater educational and research community benefits from our school because of our commitment to:

Long-term Volunteer Placements:

  • We’re committed to working with full-time service opportunity organizations such as the AmeriCorps family of organizations and other university fellowships.
  • University volunteers from Alverno College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Whitewater have worked with our students.
  • We have welcomed two principals-in-training to do observations and receive mentorship.

Participatory Action Research:

  • We have conducted and disseminated participatory action research gathered within our school, offering our unique voice and perspective at conferences.

Student-led Tours and Presentations:

  • Our students and staff have hosted members of the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Educators, the Wisconsin Council on Energy and the Environment, as well as various community organizations from around Milwaukee.
  • Our students have presented in 2013 at the WI Green Schools Youth Summit, the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education Annual Conference, the Youth Social Justice Forum, and are featured presenters at the National Green Schools Conference in April 2014.