AOS 93, Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust Partner for Summer School
Above: AOS 93 students explore nature on Bristol Consolidated School trails, guided by instructor Heather Hardy, during a field trip on Aug. 7. Other activities on the field trip included making art with objects found in nature, a scavenger hunt, and education about local plants and insects. (Dylan Burmeister photo)
Article by Dylan Burmeister in The Lincoln County News
September 7, 2023
Prior to school kicking off for the year, AOS 93 and Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust partnered to create a new, hands-on opportunity for local students enrolled in summer school. For four Fridays, students took all-day field trips to local parks and trails, where they experienced “a full day of outdoor education and nature programming,” said Sarah Gladu, Coastal Rivers’ director of education and citizen science.
During the series, students visited the Library Park Preserve and Plummer Point in South Bristol, Pemaquid Beach, and the Bristol Recreation Trail, located at Bristol Consolidated School. Buses picked up students and brought them to the park or preserve where they would be spending the day.
“We wanted kids to spend time learning outdoors and discovering some of the amazing places in their own communities,” AOS 93 Assistant Superintendent Tara McKechnie said.
Five Coastal Rivers educators led the excursions and summer school staff from AOS 93 was present for support, according to Gladu. AOS 93 consists of Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Nobleboro, Newcastle, and South Bristol.
“They had a lot of different types of activities that they were involved with,” Gladu said. “The instructors kept them very busy exploring on the shore, exploring in the woods, and experiencing a lot of different habitats within a very small region.”
Gladu said that there had been around 50 students registered in grades 1-8, but that the program had an average attendance of 35.
“It was a very multidisciplinary type of program,” she said. “Providing both context- (and) place-based learning, and hands-on learning all at thesame time makes learning a lot more accessible to young people.”
While Coastal Rivers is involved with outdoor education programs year-round, this is the first time it has been connected to a summer school program, Gladu said.
“The instructors get to know the kids a bit, and they get to see them for several Fridays in a row,” she said. “That provides the kids with a certain level of comfort and confidence.”
The educators worked to incorporate math and reading into the program, and taught students about different plants, animals, and insects that could be found in the ecosystems they visited.
“Because this is a selected group of students who need enrichment anyway, it’s a way to provide academic and community-based enrichment,” Gladu said. “These are the kids who need to learn what applied science and applied math is. Many of them struggle in some classes, so we did a lot of integrating basic math skills and graphing and literature introductions.”
Gladu added that there is value in hands-on learning, which allows students to experience education with “all five senses, which is much different than being in a classroom.”