Monday, November 25, 2013

The Importance of Community

The desire for community drove my family’s move to Vermont and my transition into public education.  I have always been an active member of my community – coaching sports teams, volunteering with local environmental organizations, and participating in local politics – and so I was looking for ways to merge my passion for education with my desire for community.  By choosing to work in public schools, there was an optimal interface between my personal and professional lives.  I still continue to volunteer in my own time by helping to design and build local recreational trails, by spending time at our Senior Center, and by teaching free outdoor skills classes to local groups, among other activities. At school, I advise the Outing Club, coach middle school track, and run after school workout groups.  For our faculty community, I volunteer my time as a wellness coordinator, lead outdoor adventure trips and clinics, and I serve on the “Community” PLC in our high school, arranging events and activities that work to bring our faculty and staff closer together.

While I personally find it incredibly rewarding to be a part of these community-building efforts, my true passion lies in helping my students to recognize the value of community. As a part of my program, I have designed a service learning component in which every student designs, plans, and implements projects of their own choosing that benefit our school and local communities in myriad ways.  The students take on the entire process- from researching, to building community support, to writing grant applications- in an effort to create a resource, which can be used by the school and local community for years to come.  In this spring semester alone, students in my program are in the process of planning the construction of an outdoor classroom/picnic pavilion, a high ropes challenge course, an extensive trail network in our school forest, and a formidable school garden that produces food for our school cafeteria.  With the success we are currently experiencing with these projects, I am in the process of developing a senior year “Legacy Project”, in which each graduating senior creates a project that reflects their personal interests and passions.  To me, this is the utmost service that I can provide to my community – a group of young citizens who recognize the value of giving back to the place they call home.


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