This enrichment program seeks to foster a lifelong relationship between our students and the natural world. These outdoor experiences also serve to support core curriculum taught in the classroom, assist childhood development, and create a desire to work with others towards a healthier planet. To accomplish these goals, we incorporate a teaching approach called place-based education (PBE). PBE helps students understand and relate to the larger environment by encouraging discovery in their immediate surroundings first. As a result, those who benefit from the sense that they belong to a particular “place” will be more likely to act on its behalf.
MSS students are fortunate to have access to lots of green space. Outdoor education classes make use of the Outdoor Classroom, school gardens, and The Coates Bluff Nature Trail. Certified as an official “wildlife habitat” by the National Wildlife Federation, the Outdoor Classroom allows students to choose from a variety of individual hands-on lessons, participate in group activities, or simply enjoy being outside. It is also the main collection point for our school-wide recycling program. Our school gardens include raised beds, compost bins, and a 1200 sq. ft. vegetable garden.
Together, these serve as outdoor laboratories for growing food and flowers to feed the child’s mind, body, and spirit, creating a better world (2008 vision statement). Our school is also adjacent to undeveloped land that has great historical and ecological value. This area includes the site of some of the earliest European settlements in northwest Louisiana, as well as a wetland and other remnants from an old river system still rich in flora and fauna native to the Red River region. MSS students currently enjoy taking interpretive walks on a growing network of trails and working along side volunteers in an effort to protect this precious resource. We look forward to expanding our “classroom” even more as we look for additional field trip and service-learning opportunities in our local community.