Welcome to the Trail To Every Classroom Blog! This space was created for teachers and educators to share information, resources and curricula in using the Appalachian Trail as a learning tool. We welcome all questions, ideas, techniques, lessons learned and enthusiasm surrounding Place-Based Education and Service Learning on the A.T.
Post by Nancy Stevens, Gifted Teacher, Harmony Middle School,
Loudoun County, VA
Vera would be so proud!
I was never a hiker. The reason could be that I didn’t grow
up in a family of hikers, or that my husband the hunter never takes me along
because I talk too much, or that hiking shoes just aren't that cute. But the
truth is, I never had the desire. Bugs love me, poison ivy finds a way to
always cross my path, and restroom facilities in the great outdoors are sadly
lacking. When my co-worker Lori Demark approached me about applying for TTEC, I
was a little apprehensive; but, as a teacher, I am constantly putting my
students in a position to try new things…to stretch themselves. I could do no
less. Upon our acceptance into the program, I couldn't help the feelings of
excitement and, yes, apprehension as I looked over the itinerary for our fall
workshop…a 3-5 mile hike…hmmmm. I began to gather together my gear: Vera
Bradley back pack, ankle snow boots (the only walking boots I had), sunglasses,
jeans, t-shirt (cotton of course), baseball cap, water bottles, and rain gear.
I tried to bring a fanny pack but my kids said “NO!”
Upon our arrival at the Kirkridge Retreat Centerin the wilds of eastern PA, we
were met by Karen Lutz. Karen has become friend, mentor and inspiration in the
short time we've been together. It was late the next evening after our initial
greeting, classes and nightly activity, that I had a chance to sit down with
Karen and Lori to go over my hiking apparel and equipment. My cap and sunglasses
were good, every thing else would have to do except the boots which were
exchanged for tennis shoes. Thank goodness I brought them and not some cute
clogs. My ensemble was now complete, but I realized that if there was ever
going to be a second hike for me, major changes needed to be made.
Look at me now!
I was determined to become the example that I needed to be
for my students as one of the TTEC representatives in our school. Bringing the
AT to Harmony Middle School through a hiking club is the goal that Lori and I
have set for ourselves, and I was determined to be a viable part in the
implementation of that goal. With that in mind, I signed up for the overnight
hike at the summer week-long workshop held in my back yard at the National
Conservation Training Center located in Shepherdstown, WV. As a newbie, I was
immediately accepted. (Yay!) Under the guidance of Bob Sickley, our supreme
hiking leader, I managed to find myself appropriately suited up and on my way.
You can see from the photos just how far I've come. Don’t be surprised when the
next time you see me, it will be as we pass on the AT!