The Transylvania Times -

Everyday Education: Forests And Parks, Our Partners In Education


November 20, 2017

By Betsy Burrows

Every Sunday afternoon from one to three o’clock, three Brevard College students training in music education can be found in the art room at Schenck Job Corps teaching music to interested Job Corps students. Together they participate in a service learning initiative through the class “21st Century Teacher and Learner” where future teacher candidates are partnered with schools and afterschool programs.

As the nation’s largest national residential employment and training program for youth, the Job Corps program plays a critical role in providing at-risk youth with work-based learning opportunities to prepare them for stable, long-term jobs. Job Corps funds job training in the vocations but does not have the money to provide classes in the arts.

Kimberly Kiser, guidance counselor at Schenck who helped organize this new music club at Schenck, believes partnerships like this with Brevard College are very important: “Through music, all kinds of learning happens, like respect, attention to detail, as well as improved math and communication skills — all skills necessary to be successful in work and in life.”

Like most partnerships, the benefits work both ways. In planning the music class and working with the Job Corps students, Brevard College’s aspirational music teachers are learning valuable skills to help them prepare for their future careers.

Brevard College music student Arianne Ruiz said, “We use growth mindset to help students learn: When a student says, I can’t do it, we encourage them by giving them different strategies.” Ryan Burnette loves the excited look of students who practice and finally get the drum rhythm or their piano part.

Brevard music student Jaylaan Prioleau said, “Job Corps is an amazing place to get students to open up through music.”

Other teacher education classes at Brevard College find experiential ways to educate and prepare future teachers in unique partnerships as well. On Tuesday, Oct. 24, 88 fourth graders and their public school teachers gathered in DuPont Recreational Forest accompanied by eight eager Brevard College education students to learn about bridges and the ecosystem of Dupont State Park. This field trip was a collaborative effort of educators representing DuPont Forest, Holmes State Forest, Brevard College and Brevard Elementary and was the culmination of a partnership with professors Megan Keiser and Liz Fuller and students from the Brevard College Teacher Education Program with Brevard Elementary fourth grade teachers and students. Together they were teaching and learning about bridges using engaging STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum from the Children’s Museum of Boston.

Working along side Jane Dauster, DuPont Forest’s educator, teachers and teacher candidates developed a rich day of learning including lessons with James Voso, a civil engineer whose company was responsible for designing the beautiful truss bridge located in DuPont. Other lessons that day were on photosynthesis and fall colors with expert educators like Amy Kinsella from Holmes State Forest.

Teachers must be life long learners and the DuPont trip reinforced this critical aspect of teaching. As one current Brevard College teacher education student and Brevard Elementary alum, Citlamina Gonzalez, remarked, “I didn’t know much about bridges until I had to teach it, and it was interesting being able to see the actual bridge and anatomy of it in person.”

Teacher candidates need to experience the joy of fieldwork as well as witnessing how to tap local experts. Schenck Jobs Corps in Pisgah National Forest, Holmes State Forest, and DuPont State Recreational Forest offer amazing educational resources, and Brevard College’s use of the experiential learning model means our teacher candidates learn how to connect their classrooms with these local resources. We are grateful for these national and state funded treasures and the educators who are employed by them and how they partner with our local teachers to help educate our young people. Hopefully, our legislators will continue to fund them well for the benefit of us all.

(Betsy Burrows is the director of teacher education at Brevard College.)


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