Officials from the Brookfield Zoo and Riverside-Brookfield High School have been meeting this year to work on ways to deepen the relationship between the two institutions and create more opportunities for high school students and faculty to take advantage of all that the world-renowned zoo that has to offer.

“The zoo and its staff are an amazing resource to have right next door to our high school,” said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis in a press release issued by the zoo Friday. “We are taking our partnership with the Chicago Zoological Society to the next level.

“By utilizing the Society’s educational resources, we can provide our teachers with new and innovative professional development while improving and expanding learning opportunities for our students.”

On Friday, the zoo announced that specific activities, goals and outcomes involving RBHS would be announced in early 2013.

The zoo has two master’s degree programs and offers continuing professional development credits for teachers and can help RBHS teachers get prepared to teach the new Common Core science standards that will be implemented in a couple of years.

“We have several training courses here at the zoo, because of our master’s educational program, to basically provide teachers with the tools to adapt to the new science education standards,” said Alejandro Grajal, the senior vice president of conservation, education and training for the Chicago Zoological Society, in an interview on Monday.

Zoo and school officials have been discussing ways to take advantage of their capabilities. The Chicago Zoological Society is interested in using RBTV to televise special events at the zoo — guest lecturers, for example — and having the TV station broadcast interviews with some of the speakers.

“We have a steady stream of high-caliber speakers in the environmental area from all over the world,” Grajal said. “We can document the arrival of these really world-class leaders in environmental conservation.”

When zoo officials were given a tour of the high school, they were impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities of RBTV, Grajal said.

Skinkis and RBHS staff are working with the zoo to increase opportunities for students to use the zoo as resource for classes.

“One of the things we’re talking about is having the ability for classes to get into the zoo on short notice, maybe for half a class period,” Skinkis said in an interview on Monday. “There’s a lot of resources there and greater hands on opportunities for the students.”

Officials have been talking about having high school culinary students observe and help out at zoo dinners and catered special events.

RBHS’ School of Environmental Education, the SEE team, which was re-established this year after a one year hiatus, has long used the zoo as a learning resource. For a time a zoo staffer was assigned to work with the SEE Team, but that is not likely to happen again, Grajal said.

Since 2002, the zoo has had a program for teens with developmental disabilities that nine RBHS students have completed. In the program the students work closely with a zoo staff and a job coach. The students do work at the zoo and develop time-management, communication and interpersonal skills. The program aims to increase the self-esteem of students and get them ready for life after high school.

“We are proud of the RB students who have participated in our Good Works initiative and are grateful to the RB job coaches, students and staff who support our collective efforts to enrich the lives of students with all types of abilities,” said Stuart Strahl, the president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Zoological Society, in the press release.

Strahl said that the school and zoo can work together to create more educational opportunities for students and teachers.

“By bringing formal and informal educators together, we can provide teachers and students at Riverside-Brookfield High School with additional resources while facilitating the zoo’s use as an extension of the classroom,” Strahl said.

Zoo officials are happy that the new leadership at the school is committed to working with the zoo to build upon relationships that have been developed over the past 10 years, especially under former Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann and former Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Tim Scanlon.

Scanlon retired last year and some wondered if the initiatives that he spearheaded would continue. But Skinkis has made it a point to continue to develop the school’s relationship with the zoo.

“It’s been a dream come true for us to really be able to have this very deep relationship with the school,” Grajal said. “You know everybody gets nervous with new authorities and so on, but the new team that has arrived to RB High School has been all open arms to increased collaboration, so we’re really happy to see that coming.”