Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our Own Backyard

Post by Nancy Stevens, Gifted Teacher, Harmony Middle School, Loudoun County, VA

Where we pick up the pace…
When Lori Demark and I started our TTEC project, a hiking club at Harmony Middle School, we sat down and brainstormed ideas and expectations. We were in total agreement that every club meeting needed to have some time set side for an outdoor experience. While Harmony is close to the Appalachian Trail, it is not within walking distance nor is it feasible to get a bus for each meeting to get us there. We were going to have to find a way to get the outdoor experience we wanted for each meeting a little closer to home. Given these constraints, Lori and I strapped on our hiking shoes and took our brainstorming outside. It was decided that a 15-minute loop was the “just right” amount of time to spend outside each meeting as we began walking towards Harmony’s outdoor track.
Where we have a quiet place…
Just two years old, our track supports our PE department and their physical fitness needs. For our purposes, it would be an excellent place to “pick up the pace”. On the track, we would be able to assess the fitness of our hikers and give them a chance to converse while strolling leisurely on even ground. We next made our way north over a slight rise and down a hill where we discovered a “quiet place” where our hikers could sit and reflect…a place hidden from the school world and visible to no one.
We decided to use this place in our first meeting to conduct a quiet listening exercise.
Where we have left a trace…
Continuing on, we rounded a corner and passed by a group of trees. We could just make out the beginnings of our school baseball field and basketball courts. It was easy to see where we had ”left a trace” and made an impact on what used to be a farm called “Harmony”. This spot would be an ideal segue into a discussion on the “Leave No Trace” concept and the impact of man on his environment.
Our fifteen-minute walk came to an end at the back door entrance to the school. As we walked inside, we realized that to bring the culture of the AT to Harmony we did indeed need look no further then “Our Own Backyard”!

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