In spite of my hope to have such a club, I had no idea how to take children out on a hike. I had done much hiking along the A.T., but I did not have a clue about what I would need to take a group of children out on the trail. The answer came in a small email from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, inviting educators to apply for the TTEC training in WV. Two teachers and I responded and were fortunate to receive acceptance into the TTEC program.
The week that we spent at TTEC was an intense learning experience that included all the training we would need to take our students out while providing them with valuable lessons that matched our curriculum. In the four years that we have partnered with TTEC, we have learned more and more connections to academics and personal living than we could ever gain from a workshop or other professional development activity. Our students have received rich, life-changing experiences that can only occur through the real life experiences they have had on the Trail.
We have taken many groups to the top of Mt. Washington where they have spent the night and touched the stars. We now have a leadership program that provides students with the skills to lead their peers on hikes while practicing the principles of Leave No Trace and Hike Safe. They share their skills in orienteering while leading team building activities. We have grown from a small, but dedicated group of 19 students and staff to over 50 students in grades five through eight. Our training through TTEC enabled us to create our Wilderness Explorers outdoor club. The materials provided through TTEC allow us to assess the effectiveness of our activities so that we continually improve what we are able to offer our students. We are growing, changing, and improving as each year goes by.
Janet Steinart, Former Vice Principal
I have attended many workshops offered by the Trail to Every Classroom program. I think that the program is great for introducing young people to the experience of being outdoors, discovery, and service learning. After attending one of the workshops, I started an after school outing club at my school where students have the opportunity to go outside, be active, and learn more about their surroundings. The students love it and it has created positive interactions between our students and members of our staff. We even started a program called Kinder Guides where some of our younger students actually guide elderly people along the trail. This is a great way to establish positive relationships for our school with members of our community.