Monday, June 3, 2013

New England Spring

Post from Lori Innes of Profile High School, Bethlehem NH: “People hike all of those miles? You are crazy!” These are my student’s responses when I share with them that I joined my husband (trail name Bobcat) for 800 miles (my trail name was Sunshine) during his thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2007.  I have a map of the Trail that hangs near my door, and serves as a reminder of our wonderful journey together that ended two weeks before we were married. The map also haunts me because I have wanted to find a way to incorporate this experience into my classroom, but have not had the resources and time to do so until I found out about The Trail to Every Classroom program. After receiving information from my principal, my husband told me that he had spoken to the first TTEC group at the Blackburn Center about his hike. I was on Cloud 9 after being accepted and the first session of the program was inspiring, and I left feeling confident that I would be able to create service learning opportunities in my school.
Here are some highlights:
  • I learned more about soil in an hour than I ever did in any science class.  I didn’t know about different types of soil or that  soil color could be defined.
  • I learned about programs offered by the AMC that I never knew existed and I am excited to build a relationship with this organization. I am a wildflower fanatic and I’ve never incorporated this knowledge into my curriculum.
  • I enjoyed listening to the case studies. They gave me ideas on how to do this in my school. I felt at ease knowing that the TTEC will provide the foundation, and that utilizing the contacts and resources will enable me to implement place based service learning (I also feel fortunate to have a supportive administration).
  • My husband and I had the opportunity to present our lecture about hiking the Appalachian Trail. The hike was an amazing bonding experience that taught us about community, environment and relationships, and we love sharing this experience with others.
The first session tapped into all my passions: hiking, the outdoors and teaching, and left me excited as to what is next (I have so many curriculum ideas now).  I just finished reading Becoming Odyssa (trail name inspired by Odysseus), a memoir by Jennifer Pharr Davis about her 2005 thru-hike on the AT (I’ve been obsessed with AT books lately!) and she writes about becoming comfortable in her own skin because as a thru hiker, people don’t care “what you are but who you are” (Davis). Teenagers face many struggles, one being lack of self confidence. My hope is that exposing students to a place of meaning through literature, hiking or trail maintaining (the Appalachian Trail - which is in our backyard), will boost their esteem and make them feel even more connected to the North Country. They will realize that “place matters” (Robert Siudzinski, session 1 TTEC) and can teach many important lessons about life and self worth. Maybe one day my students will respond to my AT map and say, “I hiked this section” or “I fixed a bridge on the AT” and feel proud and realize that they had a positive impact on the environment and their “backyard” playground on the AT.
Lori and her husband on July 27, 2007
2 weeks before they got married, just after he finished his thru-hike, and she had joined him for 800 miles

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

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Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald