Monday, January 4, 2016

TTEC - A Powerful Agent for Change

Barbara Lindtner
Seven Generations Charter School
Emmaus, PA
TTEC 2015

It all started with an email. And the excitement was palpable as we read comments from our admin Alison. She describes TTEC as “an absolutely AMAZING experience, you get to stay at the National Conservation Center for FREE, you BELONG there”. Alison is very persuasive, but she didn’t have to work too hard. The four of us applied and were ecstatic to take on the challenge and adventure of learning and connecting to the Appalachian trail. And it has been an incredible journey of friendships, new relationships, and writing curriculum to connect our students to the AT. 

Meeting Karen Lutz was one of the first gems in the story. Karen was like a den mother watching over a bunch of 15 year olds. She giggled often as she said, “well you will just love our week in Shepherdstown, WV”. A great leader, Karen laid the bread crumbs for us to follow on our first cohort meeting in Virginia. Meeting Betty Gatewood was another special part of that first weekend together. She reminded us to open our eyes and see the world from a different color, and connect those colors to writing. Nature journaling – stop, draw the beautiful things we see as we walk the path and write notes. A simple lesson I have used many times since with my students on our hikes and field trips.

All the new relationships-Cody, Tyler, Megan, David, Jill, John, Donna, Rebekah, and Karen -- I can’t wait to see what we do with our work! And deepening of our friendships - Pia and Kim you are such amazing people and teachers!

One of the great takeaways from that weekend for us from 7Gen was learning about the Leave No Trace Principles. We all realized sitting in that conference room that while we hike and use the outside as a context for learning, our students didn’t practice these principles, didn’t even know them.  And Kim connected it all. She did the work and the creative process of developing an easy approach to teaching the curriculum for our students, teachers and 7Gen. It was an exciting beginning!

The week at the National Convention Center was over the top—meeting new people, incredibly talented people that came together to share their lives and stories. All of it was centered around making connections for kids to the Appalachian trail. It was a truly amazing experience.

Our last weekend in New Jersey at the Mohican Outdoor Center Lodge was probably the most memorable of all three weekends as we came together to share ideas, work and humor! Love you MidAtlantic Cohort! The Mohican Center was a warm place, where we all packed into a space that was fairly intimate. Meeting Estelle Ruppert, who wrote a book I have been using in my classroom --PA Land Choices and taking a beautiful hike were some of my highlights. But the best part was sitting around a fire, telling stories. And yes, I really did do all that stuff! It was a perfect ending to a wonderful series of workshops.

As I sit here in late December, I am the only one left at my school from our cohort. For various reasons, my friends have moved on to other professional endeavors. The TTEC experience was about more than friendships, writing curriculum and hiking. This experience has served to underscore for each of us what we want to do in life. Yes, it’s about how to make our own lives richer by doing what we think is important. TTEC is a powerful tool, an agent for change. Perhaps we will reconnect and share some stories, somewhere along the trail, somewhere in our lives.

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald