Spark Strategic Plan 2023: Harnessing the Sun and Strengthening Sustainability

This story originally appeared in the Spark 2023 Impact Update, a publication highlighting the accomplishments of St. Stephen's 5-year strategic plan. 

The installation of 1,064 panels was funded through the generosity of donors, including lead donors Frederick and Ann Dure P '19, in conjunction with a special incentive rebate program from Austin Energy. Since the spring of 2023, the solar panels have generated 235,000 kWh for a savings of $23,000.

Beyond the practical reduction of energy costs, the solar panels are a visible affirmation of the school’s commitment to reducing its negative climate impact.

“We know how fortunate St. Stephen’s is to have 370 beautiful acres, and we take seriously our responsibility to be thoughtful stewards of the earth,” said Head of School Chris Gunnin. “In fact, one of the five core values underlying our school mission is to be ethical citizens and stewards of the planet we share. That’s why I am so proud of the school taking this significant step forward to deepen our commitment to sustainability.”

Austin-based Spear Solar installed the panels and provided professional development and curriculum support to St. Stephen’s science faculty. The goal was to maximize the teaching opportunities with the new panels.

“The new solar panel system presents teachers with many and varied teachable moments, from science to social studies, from math to the arts, and even from ethics to economics,” says science department Chair Frank Mikan. “Issues related to pollution, climate change, electrical generation, financial solvency, conservation of land and resources and what the future may yet hold for all of us can also be addressed. St. Stephen’s is not only ensuring its short-term future by reining in energy costs, but also hopefully creating a cadre of students who as adults will work diligently to create a clean and dynamic future that is as bright as the sun itself!”
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213