Highland Community School
Previously part of the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system, the building at 1706 W Highland Ave has been the home of Highland Community School (Highland) since 2012 and was officially purchased by Highland in 2015. As a K-8 parent run Montessori school, Highland’s education is child-centered and focuses on fostering responsibility, independence, and a love for learning.
Of their four pillars of education, Highland's emphasis on “Care of the Environment” is extremely evident through the school’s purposeful partnerships and ecostudies curriculum. Highland is a Green and Healthy Schools Wisconsin member and additionally a founding member of the Green Schools Consortium of Milwaukee (GSCM). Highland hosted the 1st annual GSCM Green Schools Conference and displayed their solar cart at the 2nd annual conference.
Highland's Natural Grounds Redevelopment Project has been running strong since 2012. Highland has involved its students in the creation and installation of native prairies, rain gardens, raised bed gardens, three bioswales, and a solar cart and offers extensive hands-on experience in urban agriculture through the school's two hoop houses, which include fully functional aeroponics and aquaponics systems.
Highland is also currently working to change the status quo from traditional steal and plastic playground equipment to dynamic installations made from natural materials, such as logs and rope. This also includes loose play elements such as small logs and tree cookies for fort building.
Highland Community School took the pledge as part of the Better Buildings Challenge - Milwaukee pilot program. Highland received a free energy assessment and has begun retrofit projects while creating plans to tackle capital upgrades in the near future.
Energy use for the building at 1706 W Highland Ave remained relatively stable between 2010 to 2011, dropped slightly in 2012, and has been significantly and steadily increasing since, according to the most recent data. During the building transition from MPS to Highland Community School, energy use likely increased due to the changes in building operation and occupancy. As a community school, Highland continues to use the building after school hours and on weekends for programs and events. Additionally, some problems with the building air handlers likely contributed to inefficiencies and additional energy usage.