Since August 2008, the Environmental School project has been working to bring together the community of Maple Ridge to establish a public K-7 school and learning centre. The theory and practice of the project is supported by Place-Based, Imaginative and Ecological Education.
Learning and teaching is experiential, in context, and through activities that engage the mind, body, and heart. The project is based in principles of inquiry and inclusion. Teaching and learning involves reconnecting the natural and human worlds.
The project is a partnership between several community groups, Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District No. 42, and Simon Fraser University. The university-based research is funded through an environmental Community-University Research Alliance grant (eCURA) from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
I grew up on the West Coast where I developed a deep connection with the ocean and wilderness. We had a cabin on Anvil Island and I was free to explore and learn outside. I only had to show up when I was hungry. My experiences include camping, fishing, hiking, whitewater canoeing, mountain biking, skiing, and hunting. I love being alone in the wilderness during the transition from night to day. It is always a powerful time for me.
I moved to Edmonton where I worked and also received my teaching degree at University of Alberta. My work experience includes installing alarms, painting, construction, and climbing telephone poles. Hanging from the top of a pole in -30 weather motivated me to go to university! I returned to the Lower Mainland and taught grade 6/7 in Maple Ridge for 19 years. I was involved in the 1 to 1 laptop program for 6 years before moving to the Environmental Education School. Some think it is funny that I went from, “virtual learning” to “hands on, outside learning.” But there are similarities. In both programs we are encouraged to be thoughtful, creative, innovative, and forward looking. We critically examine our practice and ask what is best and what can we do to give the students a rich education?
I am grateful for the opportunity to work in this school. It is wonderful to be outside and able to share my love of the outdoors with the students.