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Faculty Spotlight: Chris Costa

If you see Chris Costa on campus, she might coast by you on her sticker-covered bike, issuing a warm greeting with a broad smile. If you stop to chat, 她会告诉你她要带领一群小圈子的学生去冒险. Where to? you might ask, 他们知道他们每次外出旅行的地点都是不同的,这是初中基于地点的科学课程的一部分. 今天,她和她的学生们肩负着从校园周围的许多枫树中提取汁液的任务. “当你关注大自然深刻的节奏时,你所能注意到和学到的东西是令人惊讶的,她一边说,一边出发去收集他们需要的水桶. Later in the year, 她将在中学做独木舟准备工作,期待着该部门一年一度的冒险活动之一. 这是一项艰巨的任务——无论从字面上还是从象征意义上讲——需要数千磅的设备来支持每个级别的远行. But she’s not alone. 热情的八年级学生拖着独木舟、帐篷、冷却器和船桨支持她.

The Middle School canoe expedition program is scaffolded, meaning the duration, difficulty, and distance increase each year. First, each grade practices foundational skills on the school’s 14-acre lake; they learn technique and safety as their comfort and skills grow. The program starts with an overnight trip in sixth grade, 这是一个让同学们在一个不熟悉的环境中一起划船和徒步旅行的独特体验中建立联系的机会. For some students, this is second nature and for others, it may be a stretch outside their comfort zones. 科斯塔和陪同他们的中学教师团队准备支持各种各样的经验和热情的学生尝试新东西. 这个项目为七年级学生提供了一个更遥远的夜间活动,然后为八年级学生提供了一个更大的多日活动. 在他们的冒险中,他们从伦理土地管理(使用 Leave no Trace 原则)、技术技能、社区建设和团队合作能力. Almost predictably, at the end of each trip, the students return to Westtown tired, a little dirty, and a lot closer as a grade.

Costa might also talk to you about ropes, 但与传统意义上的户外教育者不同. Sure, 她在高中户外领导项目中有远足和登山的经验, a co-curricular at Westtown, 但她的“绳子”是隐喻,她的解释是逻辑和魔法的一部分. 她相信每一次你都与土地有互动, 你在你自己和你的环境之间创造了一条小小的连接线. 当PT老虎机平台的学生们有机会在一个不熟悉的空间里交流时——也许是捡回一个误入的球拍, or to encourage a weary classmate to keep going to the summit, 或者了解生态系统的运作方式——也有机会创建一个新的线程. Costa theorizes, “As you continue to have these experiences in nature, 您正在构建越来越多的线程,这些线程将成长为一段字符串.五年级学生可能会冒险徒步去西城的大象岩. On their way, they’ll take part in a naturalist walk, 密切关注旅途中遇到的动植物. 他们会谈论这片土地的历史,然后他们可能会生火, 就像13岁的布莱恩·罗布森在加里·保尔森家做的那样 Hatchet, a text they have just finished reading in the classroom. The strengthening of the thread is almost imperceptible, 除了一个事实,也许在餐桌上,一个学生告诉他们的家人,他们想在周末去远足, 另一个人急切地指出他们后院的一棵树,这棵树和他们散步时看到的那棵树很像, 或者另一个学生选择在学校的植物园玩耍,而不是在生日那天选择穿睡衣的日子(过生日的学生可以选择哪一天,这是经常发生的结果).

As these experiences continue in Middle and Upper School, the string grows stronger, 通过多次探索校园的短途旅行以及通过尝试和学习新东西而获得的成就感,PT老虎机平台得到了加强. Over time, these strings thicken to become a rope. These experiences connect our students to nature, help them learn to be stewards of Earth, and utilize our rich outdoor learning spaces. 这是科斯塔作品的核心,也是 Environment, Illuminated, our Strategic Vision.

学生们也看到了课堂之外与土地联系的好处. Costa explains, “我有一个学生受到焦虑的挑战,对生活的节奏感到不知所措. They came to Outdoor Leadership one season ’just to try it.’ They said, ’I feel so much more relaxed when I’m here! 当我在户外的时候,我感觉自己和他人的联系更加紧密. I feel like there is space held for me in a different way.’ Over time, 这对他们来说是一个经常参与的机会,然后他们可以把一些学习转化为提问, How can I find space and balance for myself in other ways? How can I transfer this feeling into other areas of my life?科斯塔看到,开放和尝试新事物的勇气会创造“通过与更大的宇宙联系而实现转变”的机会, self, and others,” time and time again.

自然中发生的自我反思的过程允许巨大的成长. “This work — connecting with the land, exploring the outdoors, 有意识地花时间在大自然中——都是自我发现的工具,” she concludes. “Who am I? How do I engage with people and how do I engage with this land? Am I taking care of myself? What is my responsibility?” These seem like heavy existential questions, and they could be, 但探究的过程是温和的,可以通过她与PT老虎机平台的PreK和幼儿园学生的工作来解释. “We start with our senses. 这似乎是基本的,但它们总是与PT老虎机平台同在,调整到PT老虎机平台的意识中,会产生深远的影响. PT老虎机平台会问学生这样的问题:“你能听到最远的声音是什么??,’ or ’What do you see and smell?’ And through those exercises, PT老虎机平台加强了他们的观察能力——否则就会错过很多东西. Because their senses are alive and stimulated, 他们的好奇心被激发了,他们完全沉浸在这个地方, the learning, the discovery, and the sharing with each other. That is what it’s all about. By doing this critical, foundational work, PT老虎机平台正在培养一个更美好世界的管理者,而这种方式无疑将在PT老虎机平台校园之外延续一生.”

Written by Anne Burns and featured in the 2022 Westonian Vol. 1

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