We value the communication we have with our school parents and community. This Web site contains a variety of information about our school of interest to you and your child attending Goodwillie Environmental School. Please contact us if you have specific questions or comments and will be be happy to help you.
District Mission Statement:
In partnership with our community, Forest Hills Public Schools will provide all learners with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to build meaningful and productive lives.
School Day Schedule:
8:05 a.m. – Start of School Day
3:10 p.m. – End of School Day
School Office Hours:
Monday -Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
2012-13 Enrollment: 100
History and Philosophy of Our School:
Yes, dreams really do come true! The dream of having an environmental school in the Forest Hills School District was hard to imagine, but after the approval from the Board of Education it became a reality in the fall of 1999. The philosophy of integrating environmental education into the curriculum and using the outdoors as a motivation for learning was exciting and ignited a great deal of interest in the Forest Hills community. Portable classrooms were installed at Camp O’Malley, fifth grade students were selected and before long, tow eager teachers and 44 excited students were ready to begin this adventure together. The enthusiasm and pioneering spirit of the students and parents from the first year created unforgettable memories for those that experienced it. Going to school at camp was a unique opportunity that few people will ever experience and for those that did it was magical.
In the winter of 2000, a decision was made for Forest Hills Environmental School to expand to include both 5th and 6th grades, but lack of classroom space presented an interesting challenge. The stars must have been aligned again because Jim and Mary Goodwillie Nelson granted a generous gift to Forest Hills Public Schools to build an environmental school. Their gift was used to build the first LEED certified “Green School” in Michigan – Goodwillie Environmental School, named for Kelly Goodwillie, an avid outdoorsman. In November 2001 we bade farewell to Camp O’Malley and boarded buses for our new school. It only seemed appropriate that the students would be introduced to their “living textbook” first, so hand in hand they walked silently through Seidman Park making their way to their new school building, a founding tradition they honor each year.
The Living Legacy of Kelly Goodwillie:
by Andrew Goodwillie
It was an honor to make a few remarks about my father on behalf of the family at the GES dedication ten years ago. I shared with the attendees that Kelly was an active outdoorsman, a hunter, and fisherman, and not necessarily a self-described environmentalist. He enjoyed actively recreating in nature and encouraged my brother and me to explore the outdoors as youngsters. My childhood home (where my mom still lives) was just down Honey Creek Road from GES. Thanks to my dad, I was fortunate to spend countless hours and days in the unkempt woods of Ada, much like GES students do every day – exploring the muddy banks of Honey Creek, constructing forts from found forest materials, and just wandering quietly, observing birds flicker in the trees, animals scurry in the brush, and enjoying the peaceful shimmer of wind meeting maple.
My Dad gave me an informal education in the outdoors, taking me along on weekend fly- fishing trips in Michigan and extended float trips out west. As a teenager, my dad encouraged me to challenge myself and participate in a month-long National Outdoor Leadership (NOLS) camping expedition. My month living outside in the Wind River range in Wyoming, carrying only life’s necessities on my back, was a life-altering, mind-expanding experience that cemented the foundation for my love of nature and its ability to teach us unmatched lessons about ourselves, and ti reveal insights about the world around us.
Buckets of praise, gratitude, and thanks to my mother and stepfather, Mary and Jim Nelson, for identifying the immense potential of the outdoor, experiential education model, realizing its connection to my dad’s values and legacy, and their generous commitment to establish this extraordinary school in memory of Kelly Goodwillie.
The contributions of the original group of teachers who conceived the initial Goodwillie Environmental seminar class and the founding staff of GES cannot be underestimated. Their wonderful kernel of an idea has enriched the lives and expanded the educational frontiers of hundreds of children.
Goals For Goodwillie Environmental School:
• Use a natural setting to generate a stimulating learning environment that will allow students to acquaint themselves with and feel connected to the natural world.
• Create an environment that models “living lightly.”
• Integrate the Forest Hills 5th and 6th grade curriculum with an environmental theme.
• Nurture responsibility and independence through project based learning.
• Address the unique learning needs of individual children.
• Develop research and study skills through involvement in projects related to environmental awareness.
• Internalize the importance of cooperation and teamwork through team building activities.
• Develop leadership skills through activities that promote district wide environmental responsibility and awareness.
• Improve self-confidence, self-awareness and social awareness.
• Promote risk-taking and physical fitness through learning new outdoor/recreational skills.
This is a school for children who:
• Love being outside in all kinds of weather.
• Enjoy working with others but can work independently also.
• Are comfortable with or curious about nature.
• Enjoy physical activity.
• Are self-disciplined and persistent about learning.
• Are interested in science and investigation.
Weather at Goodwillie:
Click below to view the current weather stats from the AWS WeatherNet Weather Station at our school.
Goodwillie’s WeatherNet Station
The Goodwillie and Nelson Families
Through the generosity of the Goodwillie & Nelson families, a permanent home for the Forest Hills Environmental School was planned, built and opened to 96 fifth and sixth graders in November of 2001. The school was named Goodwillie Environmental School to memorialize Kelly Goodwillie and his genuine love and respect for our natural environment.
The following articles from past issues of the Forest Hills Public Schools’ newsletter, Focus, highlight the donation by the Goodwillie and Nelson families and the dedication of the school in November, 2001:
An Extraordinary Gift:
Goodwillie-Nelson Family Donates $1.6 Million to Build Environmental School
Mary Goodwillie Nelson and her husband, Jim Nelson, announced at the September 2000 Board of Education meeting the largest single contribution made to the Forest Hills school district. The donation will memorialize Mary’s first husband, Kelly, who died in 1993. The donation will cover the land purchase and construction costs of a permanent home for the Forest Hills Environmental School, a program for 5th grade students begun in 1999.
The school currently meets in temporary quarters at Camp O’Malley in Caledonia Township and serves 44 students. The new school will bear the Goodwillie name. It will be built on 28 acres next to Kent County’s Seidman Park, located east of Honey Creek Avenue between Two Mile Road and Conservation Road. If construction goes as planned, the students will be in the new school next year. The 28 acres surrounding the school and Seidman Park will provide students with a living environmental laboratory.
The Forest Hills School District plans to make the school available to the entire school district and community through enrichment classes. It also will serve as a living laboratory to students in the Goodwillie Environmental Honors Seminar, an advanced placement class begun by Mary Goodwillie Nelson five years ago.
Board of Education President Ben Emdin presented Ms. Goodwillie Nelson with a bouquet of flowers, and thanked her and her husband, Jim, for the extraordinary gift that will provide both a permanent home for the Environmental School, and a model for environmental stewardship in our community.
Ben Emdin, Board of Education President in 2000, thanks Mary Goodwillie Nelson and her husband, Jim Nelson for their extraordinary gift.
Opening a Natural Wonder:
Remembering Kelly Goodwillie at the Goodwillie Environmental School Dedication
On November 19, 2001 the family and friends of Kelly Goodwillie, together with the students, parents and staff of the Goodwillie Environmental School (GES), dedicated their new school to the memory of Kelly Goodwillie, and to his genuine love and respect for our natural environment.
Andrew Goodwillie, son of Mary Goodwillie Nelson and Kelly Goodwillie, told the students that he hoped his father would “inspire you to learn a little bit more and discover the wonderful things the outdoors can provide to you.”
Jim and Mary Goodwillie Nelson, Andrew and Catherine Goodwillie, Patrick and Ligia Mendez Goodwillie, and fifteen other family members donated $1.7 million to build the school.
GES was designed by Progressive AE as a “green” building, and was built by Triangle Associates. It is being submitted for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification which is an international accreditation program for projects that sustain our environment through the materials, systems and construction methods used. Located at 8400 Two Mile Road, the school’s 18 acres adjoin Seidman Park.
The Goodwillie and Nelson families dedicated the new Goodwillie Environmental School to the memory of Kelly Goodwillie.
The Goodwillie Environmental School Building Architectural Facts:
• Overhangs above the windows are designed to keep out the hot summer sun while allowing deep penetration during the winter for solar heat gain.
• The towers create a natural flow of air through the building to keep it cool by drawing the hot air up and out of the classrooms.
• High efficiency windows provide excellent thermal performance against the winter cold.
• Concrete in the building has a large percentage of fly ash (a by-product of coal burning electric plants) which made it stronger than conventional concrete while using fewer virgin resources.
• The deck is a composite wood made from recycled milk jugs and sawdust and is more slip resistant, durable, and relatively maintenance-free.
• Wall insulation is cellulose, made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper goods.
• The metal siding and roof materials contain at least 1/3 recycled material.
Interior Finishes Facts:
• All paint has a low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) level which eliminates the odor of conventional paints.
• The carpet tile in the classrooms is made from recycled plastic bottles, with 30% recycled backing.
• Tack-boards in the corridors are made of 100% recycled paper products.
• Featured woods are:- The fibrous material that resembles Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is called Duracane which is made of sugar cane and is formaldehyde free. – Wood that looks burled is a composite material of sunflower seed hulls.
• Rubber flooring located in the General Education Room and the classrooms is made of 100% post-consumer recycled car tires.
• Orientated Strand Boards (OSB) on the corridor ceiling are manufactured from a sustainable source of trees. These boards require less energy to produce than steel, concrete and other materials.
• Bathroom partitions in the student restrooms contain 75% recycled post-industrial HDPE plastic.
• Fabric on the mobile partitions is made from 100% recycled material using sustainable manufacturing practices.
• Computer- controlled “ventilation towers” provide cooling during warm months.
• A water-source geothermal heat pump system provides heat for a fraction of conventional costs. The system extracts heat from the ground, and circulates it through the floors at a slightly elevated temperature.
• Direct Digital Controls monitor indoor and outdoor conditions and automatically adjust heating and ventilating systems.
• Light fixtures throughout the building utilize high efficiency, color-corrected fluorescent lamps.
• Construction was planned to disturb as little of the site as possible. Erosion control fencing prevented exposed soil from washing into undisturbed areas.
• Most roadway surfaces are constructed from ground, recycled concrete.
• Vegetation on the site was restored with native plants and grasses.
• All construction waste was sorted into separate dumpsters for delivery to recycling centers.
The Goodwillie Environmental School Building is constructed and finished with recycled materials. Efficient energy systems for heating, ventilation and lighting keep it environmentally friendly.
Goodwillie Environmental School Achieves LEED Certification
At the April 22, 2003 Forest Hills Board of Education Meeting, Progressive AE, the architectural firm that designed the Goodwillie Environmental School, presented Jim Nelson, Mary Goodwillie Nelson and the Goodwillie staff with the LEED Certification award. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system was designed by the US Green Building Council to encourage and facilitate the development of more sustainable buildings. Jim VanderMolen, chief architect for the project, presented the bronze plaque that will hang in the hallway of the school and explained to the Board and the audience the extensive criteria required for qualification.
Christine A. Ervin, President and CEO of US Green Building Council, stated the following in a letter accompanying the award: “The US Green Building council is proud to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of your project team by awarding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Certification to Goodwillie Environmental School in Ada, Michigan. Your project’s final LEED rating reflects 29 documented and approved points which corresponds to the LEED Certified level under version 2.0.
“In honor of this achievement and in appreciation of your participation in our program, we are pleased to present you with the enclosed LEED Green Building plaque and certificates. LEED Certification identifies your project as a pioneering example of sustainable design and demonstrates your leadership in transforming the building industry and marketplace. Goodwillie Environmental School has earned this recognition for excellence in the built environment and a place among the finest measured green buildings.
“We look forward to working with you in the future to further our common mission of transforming the building industry and creating a greener world for future generations.”
Jim VanderMolen (left) of Progressive AE presents the LEED Certification Award to Jim Nelson (right) and Mary Goodwillie Nelson.
2009-2010 School Year Points of Pride
• Constructed an authentic birch bark canoe with native American consultant Kevin Finney.
• The ten-year GES reunion was attended by approximately 1,100 alumni and their families on May 17th and $27,000 was raised.
• A pioneer barn is being constructed by 5th grade students along with George Stegmier. Logs have been peeled and the notching has started.
• Parents coordinated a delicious Friday “hot lunch” program for students and staff.
• Students launched their birch bark canoe on Little Bostwick Lake, followed by a family picnic.
• Students stripped elm bark and helped construct an elm bark structure in the Native American village area.
• Students trail-guided approximately 400 second graders in the fall.
• Students filled two canoes with food during the holidays and donated it to Baxter Community Center.
• A special “night school” in a large wetland area was attended by all fifth grade students and their families as they explored the world of amphibians.
• Students had a chance to work with the Pigeon family for the Gun Lake Pottawatomie Tribe to learn the process of black ash basket making. This could become a lost tradition due to the emerald ash bore infestation.
• Worked with Melanie Good of the Nature Conservancy, Dan Deloof of Ada Parks, and Betty Jo Crosby of the Ada Township Open Land Committee, and parent volunteers to remove invasive autumn olive trees from Goodwillie property and Seidman Park.
• Assessed the water quality of Honey Creek. They also studied the Lake Michigan watershed with Professor Janet Vail of GVSU.
• Participated in the Michigan Junior Duck Stamp Contest, with 6 honorable mention winners.
• Joined with Blandford School students to teach the public about Sugarbush and Native American storytelling and transportation.
• Completed a survey of field succession in Seidman Park.
• Toured the Voigt House and Meyer May House in Heritage Hill to study Victorian architecture and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright in connection with performing “A Christmas Carol.”
• Traveled to Chicago to learn more about the Great Lakes watershed and prairie system and attend a professional production of “A Christmas Carol.”
• Designed and wrote the ecosystem highlights in the Ada Township brochure on land features of the area.
• Volunteered at Ada Park for Arbor Day.
• Presented environmentally themed skits to over 300 3rd graders in the Forest Hills district.
• Performed puppet shows on constellations, Greek mythology, and astronomy to parents and 5th graders.
• Worked with resident artist, Sally Triant, to create sculptures inspired by artist Andy Goldsworthy out of natural objects from the Goodwillie grounds.
• Cleared and maintained all of Goodwillie’s trail system in preparation for a visit by prospective students.
• Studied sand dune ecology during an intensive backpacking trip on Lake Michigan.
• Participated in the Eastern Michigan Environmental Action Council’s “Green Screen Film Festival,” where their movies on environmental issues were showcased and advanced to the final round in the contest judging.
• Created web pages and participated in community outreach during their Environmental Action Projects.
• Sixth grader Emily DeVriese won first place in the “On the Town” literary contest for the Festival of the Arts for non-fiction.