Deschutes Children’s Forest is excited to announce Jenn Berry-O’Shea, a middle school science teacher from Powell Butte Community Charter School as Teacher of the Month for December. Jenn has been nominated for her passion and leadership in planning place-based outdoor activities for her students. She has spent hours planning field work, rallying volunteers, mentoring new staff and attending professional development. Thanks to her hard work, Powell Butte CCS students have been to several key areas in both the Deschutes and Crooked River watersheds, toured the Crook County landfill and recycling center, traveled to visit Bend Park and Recreation District’s “green” building, built school garden beds, and established a school outdoor learning center!
When we would like to thank Jenn for hard work and also for sharing some insight about the importance of incorporating outdoor learning into her curriculum.
What motivates you to take your students outside?
“I find that it increases student engagement, heightens their interest in the subject, and piques their curiosity. I also find that students who struggle to find success in the classroom, find academic and social success when learning outdoors.”
My students always eagerly await our field experiences. They are excited and motivated by field experiences and will tackle some of the challenging classroom learning because they know that it will be applied in the field. Back in the classroom, after a field experience, students are excited to make connections and relate new learning and content to their experience in the outdoors. Regardless of whether we take our learning out of the classroom and onto our campus or are out on a field trip, my students love the hands-on experiential learning the outdoor affords.
What are some of the most exciting learning moments your students have had?
My most exciting moments outdoors are when my students experience or try something new. I find that learning in the outdoors removes some of barriers that students experience in other environments and gives them the freedom to take risks. I love that in the outdoors students take risks that surprise them and grow profoundly by pushing away their own preconceived notions of themselves.
Thank you Jenn for sharing your love of the natural world with your students!