School Overnight and Partnerships Framework
Islandwood's School Overnight and Partnership Programs are grounded in our mission to provide exceptional learning experiences to inspire lifelong environmental and community stewardship. We define stewardship as action that arises from caring and informed relationships with one's natural and cultural communities. Because stewardship is a lifelong pursuit, both programs work together to empower students to cultivate a strong foundation of stewardship upon which they can build a lifestyle and culture as stewards in the future.
The SOP combines environmental science and civic content in a context of direct exploration of the natural and built environments. The content is strongly aligned with national and state standards for academic excellence and achievement: the Next Generation Science Standards for Ecosystems and the Environmental and Sustainability Education Standards. The NGSS standards provide core ideas, investigative practices, and cross-cutting concepts to make ecosystem science tangible for students, both mentally and physically. The ESE standards encourage community building and civic engagement, bringing together social and environmental sciences. Combined, this multidisciplinary content encourages the development of critical analysis and problem solving skills.
The content supports and is supported by the context, also known as the IW SOP Pillars. These pillars make IslandWood a unique and supportive learning environment to enhance the content and promote student achievement, and are as follows:
- Embracing Adventure: Safe physical, emotional, and academic “adventures” enable students to discover their capabilities and to strengthen their self-awareness.
- Practicing Pro-Environmental Behaviors: Experiencing and questioning the values of different behavior choices empowers students to become stewards at home.
- Living in Community: Students develop a concrete understanding of relationships in communities. They examine their place in a community through shared experiences and collaboration.
- Engaging with Place: Deeper connections to place arise from personal experiences in natural and built environments. These experiences raise awareness of, and appreciation for, nature all around us. Exploring place also gives a deeper contextual understanding of scientific and social concepts. Through investigations in place, students develop questions, evaluate possible solutions, and enhance their critical thinking skills.
*For simplicity, this model depicts SOP as the starting point. However, Connection to Home Experiences could occur before and/or after SOP thereby helping to set the foundation of stewardship. In addition, SOP directly addresses at-home connections during the week to help prepare students to transfer the acquired skills and knowledge to their daily lives.
**IslandWood’s Partnerships Program is designed to prepare students for SOP and build upon it after the experience. Therefore, in reality, it occurs both before and after the SOP experience but for the above stated reason is only included in this model afterwards.
The School Partnerships Program supports and extends SOP, making it a year-long learning relationship with the entire school community. Partnerships expands the SOP experience in three critical ways:
- Connecting the learning and experience back home: Through at-school lessons and projects, Partnerships demonstrates that nature is all around us, not just in the rainforest. Students are able to use concepts learned in SOP to interpret their daily experiences.
- Emphasizing civic engagement and contributions: Action in one's own community is a critical component of civic engagement and a powerful learning tool. Partnerships offers schools development and support to implement such projects in ways that meet academic and community needs.
- Supporting teachers throughout the year: Because teachers are the beacons of their classrooms, Partnerships supports them in almost any way they need, from professional development opportunities to at-school lessons to curriculum planning and implementation.
In short, the School Overnight and Partnerships Programs work with multiple facets of the school to provide intentional, high-quality programs that contribute to a citizenry of stewardship. As John Elder stated in "Teaching at the Edge" from Stories in the Land, "Our pressing need now is for a pedagogy that exposes people to the range of their possible relationships in the world, and that gives them the language and models to explore and express such affiliation within a vivid community of values." Islandwood provides that pedagogy.