Table 1. Professional Standards for Educational Leadership and Opportunities for Practicing WSS
PSELs/Leadership Functions WSS Practices
PSEL 1: Mission, Vision, and Core
Schools that practice WSS have school leaders who cultivate an inspiring shared vision that
identifies a healthy and sustainable future for all as an overarching purpose for student and
PSEL 2: Ethics and Professional Norms Ethics, as taught to school leaders, often focuses on a narrow band of student-centric
interests. While these are important, WSS invites school leaders to expand their awareness
to include local and global ecological systems, as well as human social systems.
PSEL 3: Equity and Cultural
There are strong arguments already made for understanding that true social justice cannot
occur outside the realm of ecological justice, or eco-justice. Equity and justice stand at the
center of the sustainability worldview advanced through WSS and WSS embraces ecological
and cultural diversity as a matter of course.
PSEL 4: Curriculum, Instruction, and
WSS’s essential practice of integrating curriculum and instruction provides a fitting context
for implementing the more rigorous learning standards schools now face. Active problem
and project-based learning grounded in local places engages students in asking reflective
questions, envisioning more positive futures, thinking systemically, and applying what they
learn in context.
PSEL 5: Community of Care and
Support for Students
WSS seeks to build a social and physical school environment that evokes feelings of
wellness, safety, belonging, and delight in learning. As schools embrace sustainable design
principles, they become rich, varied, and dynamic learning environments within which
PSEL 6: Professional Capacity of
PSEL 7: Professional Community for
Teachers and Staff
WSS demands the cultivation of vibrant professional learning communities where teachers
learn how to integrate sustainability across the curriculum. Students are also involved in co-
learning, about sustainability and for a sustainable future, with their teachers.
PSEL 8: Meaningful Engagement of
Families and Community
WSS requires knowledge and transformative processes that no one school leader
possesses. Partnerships are critical. Many community groups and individuals are eager and
willing to contribute their expertise. The key for school leaders is to know where to look and
what to request.
PSEL 9: Operations and Management Practicing WSS relates to every aspect of facilities management from indoor air and
environmental quality to the grounds beyond school walls. Students have the opportunity
to be directly involved in learning about sustainability through hands-on interaction with
facilities. Learning comes to life when buildings and grounds are used as 3-D textbooks and
facilities staff collaborate with teachers.
PSEL 10: School Improvement WSS, as a practical approach for improving schools, honors learning as a living system,
deeply dependent on and embedded in natural systems. Emerging research demonstrates
this is good for improving our school outcomes, our communities, and our planet.
ecological sustainability) suggest they are
healthier places for students and teachers, more
environmentally responsible, and less expensive
to operate (Bernstein, 2003; Edwards, 2006;
Gordon, 2010). Additionally, promoting the
welfare of students and staff certainly includes
purchasing and serving healthier and more
sustainable food choices (Stone & Barlow, 2005).
Finally, Standard 10 states, “Effective educational
leaders act as agents of continuous improvement
to promote each student’s academic success and
well-being.” Socio-ecological sustainability and
education for sustainability are critically important
present and future trends (Marx, 2006, 2014) to
which educational leaders must attend. Emerging
trends in U.S. state and local policy suggest
increasing policy expectations for building
healthy, high-performing schools, also referred
to as green schools (Arnold & Beardsley, 2015;
Bernstein, 2003, 2010; Center, 2016; Gordon,
2010, USGBC, 2015).