CONNECTING EDUCATION AND ENVIRONMENT

How We Work

Across Michigan, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is sparking new ways for teachers and students to learn about and nurture their communities. We use three key strategies in our work.

Place-Based Education

Place-based education uses the local community and environment as an important context for teaching and learning. Students venture out of their classrooms, and take part in hands-on, real-world inquiry and problem solving related to local stewardship needs. As they learn, they work with each other—and with their teachers and community partners—to improve their community and the environment.

Sustained Professional Development

Powerful learning and skillful teaching go hand in hand. Place-based education requires teachers to have a deep understanding of both content and pedagogy, and to connect their teaching to the curricular goals of their school. Through a network of regional hubs, we work in the service of teachers, offering them ongoing professional development opportunities that reflect best practices in adult education. One important outcome of this sustained professional development is a set of strong collegial relationships among teachers and between those teachers and other members of the community.

School-Community Partnerships

The best partnerships are those that are mutually beneficial. A school is part of a community, not separate from it. Over time and in some places, the connection between schools and their communities has been broken. We restore that connection through intentional partnerships that bring expertise and resources in the community to bear on the education of young learners.

This integrated approach pays dividends. Students benefit because they come to see themselves, and are viewed by others, as valuable assets to the community. Teachers benefit because they receive the support they need to offer meaningful learning opportunities to their students. Schools benefit because they can realize their goal of providing a more holistic, relevant education to children. Community organizations benefit because they accomplish a part of their outreach mission while contributing significantly to the education of young people.