All Kinds of News for January 11, 2017
Northwest Passage is proud to announce a new partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Arboretum to bring Earth Partnership for Schools to their campuses. The Arboretum's investment in Northwest Passage and its clients ties together the two entities’ commitment to both honoring the value of nature in their missions and recognizing the potential for greatness in all children. Each year hundreds of children from across the country will be exposed to a strong project-based core curriculum grounded in lessons from nature that will allow children of all different academic levels to learn together as a team. Executive Director Mark Elliott says, "We are looking forward to plugging into the experience and wealth of knowledge that Earth Partnerships will bring to our commitment of creating hands-on, environmentally focused, flexible educational opportunities for our clients. Key staff have traveled to sites around the state for training and are working closely on implementation of this new curriculum."
Earth Partnerships for Schools (EPS) "collaborates with diverse communities to create vibrant outdoor learning spaces using a curriculum-based ecological restoration process. Through facilitated relationship-building and dialogue, communities identify their shared stewardship vision and the ways EP can help make it a reality." Northwest Passage has identified a beautiful 20-acre site as its stewardship project and has the goals to bring it back to its prairie roots.
"Everything came together to allow us to be able to make this commitment to our clients. Our outdoor classrooms are nearly finished, the pledge to the National Park Service to increase pollinator space was approved, and our desire to bring more flexibility and capacity to our educational curriculum was made a top priority. With all these things in place, we just had to make the connection with UW-Madison and the rest is history,” Northwest Passage’s Education Director, Andy Flottum, says of the prairie restoration initiative through Earth Partnership.
Andy goes on to say that "using hands-on experience to foster learning and skill-building by working through a long-term project that requires our students to really dig in to investigate and engage with a challenge and solve problems helps to connect our kids to the knowledge we want them to walk away with in a strength-based approach.”
Experiential Coordinator Ian Karl, one of the staff charged with the implementation of this new curriculum, is a naturalist himself and sees the obvious connection with Passage's commitment to providing kids with all the tools possible to live a therapeutic lifestyle well into their independent lives. "If we can empower our kids to improve their world and learn from it, we'll be fostering healthier lifestyles."
What will this all mean for the students at Northwest Passage? Ellen Race, Program Director at Prairieview and Assessment, says that all the curriculum in the programs will be filtered through a project-based, environmentally-themed lens. "Our classrooms often have kids with varying skills in math, science, and reading. EPS will be a great tool in setting up projects in the classroom with tasks at varied levels to allow students to feel success in academics while still providing a challenge for our students who exceed. A child at a low-functioning level may do measuring, while a student who functions at a higher level may assist their groupmates in calculating the measurements and mathematics, while another student may draw out the space, and yet another will write a narrative of the group’s efforts. What you have is a win/win for students, teachers, and parents. We hope to send kids home with a greater dedication to their education."
Founded in 1978 on the belief that time spent in a natural environment will improve both mental wellness and capacity for learning, Northwest Passage is devoted to meeting the educational goals of a diverse group of learners while transforming the mental health of clients through the healing process.
About Northwest PassageNorthwest Passage has been working to restore hope for clients through innovative health services since 1978. Over 5,000 children and their families have been served at their residential treatment centers in northwestern Wisconsin.