The Center facilitates the implementation of Environment as Integrating Context (EIC), a national school reform program adopted by the state. Developing and training teachers to use schoolyard trails, outdoor study stations, and service learning projects is core to EIC implementation. We are teaming teachers in the Orange Elementary Schools, our region’s demonstration site for this initiative. The Warwick Community School, Athol-Royalston Schools, and others in our region work with staff and volunteers to spread EIC practices into other classrooms.
The Center runs and facilitates collaboratively designed teacher professional development workshops and seminars that enable teachers to develop community related studies. With time dedicated to curriculum design in these seminars, teachers can be sure that their students engage in projects that will meet state and local curriculum mandates. Our staff regularly co-teaches in classrooms with teachers in these programs, we provide materials for student projects and bring other community members into the classroom as local experts in the topic under study. The National Science Foundation funds our work with Harvard Forest that brings schoolyard studies to area schools that are modeled after research conducted by scientists at Harvard Forest.
Area teachers have requested additional trail development near their schools, enhancement of transitional habitats around the playgrounds for study sites, and that study sites be set up along nature trails. The Center staff facilitates such trail development and the purchase of native plants, nest boxes, and construction of small group study areas that can increase biodiversity and direct students to key study sites.
These school programs are primarily funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. The Center provides volunteer training sessions and materials.
Please call 978-248-9491 if you would like to volunteer in one of these school programs.