News & Events
KELT boosts schools, community
LOCAL COMMENTARY, TIMES RECORD
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2012
BY MONICA WRIGHT
As a middle school science teacher, I am so thankful for the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) support.
I have limited resources in both time and money, but once I was able to start collaborating with KELT, then a brand new way of providing meaningful experiences to my students opened up to me.
Students want authentic opportunities to learn about ecology. Students want to be given tasks that mean something to anybody other than just the teacher. And students want to be outside.
The forest on school grounds is fragmented and quite small. But closer than a mile, are two KELT properties, Sewall Woods and Thorne Head. These conservation lands are free and open to the public.
Last summer, I had a chance run-in with Joan Newkirk, a third grade teacher at Fisher- Mitchell School, along Front Street. She was already collaborating with KELT to use Sewall Woods to teach her younger students about the forest ecosystem. She had just submitted a successful grant to Project Learning Tree, a national educational program, to fund her project.
I decided that if the thirdgraders were using Sewall Woods as a project, then my seventh grade students might make additional connections just by using the same project site.
KELT staff encouraged every step of the project’s development.
Becky Kolak, KELT’s education coordinator, answered and solved problems for me that I really would not have done on my own.
Sewall Woods’ steward John Swenson provided support on the trails and off the trails when teams of students were working in the woods.
Middle school students used their land as an educational opportunity to learn about the impact of invasive species on real ecosystems. KELT provided two staff members and six volunteers to guide 60 adolescents through the land trust.
Becky also brought in experts from the environmental company Stantec in Topsham to lend expertise about management of the invasive Asian bittersweet.
Both groups of students, thirdgraders and seventh-graders, are part of an authentic project with school work that matters to someone other than the teacher. Lasting learning occurred.
You’ll be able to enjoy the digital trail markers this summer on your walk through Sewall Woods that connect to a blog written by younger students and guided with older student input. Students got outside for more than just being active, but to learn science concepts.
The people connected to KELT have been incredibly supportive of student learning. I hope additional lands within the city limits, close to our schools, will come under their management. I would love to see conservation land on the south side of Bath to provide even greater opportunities for school projects.
MONICA WRIGHT is a seventh grade science teacher at Bath Middle School in Regional School Unit 1.Back to News & Events