Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program

This summer I am living out one of my dreams. I am a National Park Ranger. And what is so cool about my opportunity is that I get to go back to my teaching job in the classroom for the the 2009/2010 school year. It's the best of both worlds. Experience a new job, have a cool experience and then I get to share it with my students back in the classroom. The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program was designed just for this purpose! It links teachers and National Parks, with the mission to then reach students and have connections made in the classroom between the National Parks and students.

I first learned about the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program in the summer of 2007 when I was a presenter for the Department of Education in the Teacher-2-Teacher Program. I was eager to learn more about it. Then in February 2008 I received an email that applications were being accepted. At that time I already accepted a summer job for 2008 so I promised myself that I would keep 2009 open and apply to be a TRT. I checked the TRT website obsessively in the fall of 2008 and as soon as positions were opening I was ranking, looking at job descriptions, exploring them geographically, etc.

Now, I should mention here several things. I LOVE THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE! And have been a fan of using the National Parks in my teaching for a few years. In the summers of 2005-2007 my husband (also a teacher), our dog, and our Saturn Vue traversed the country exploring historical trails that I then incorporated in my 8th grade U.S. History Class. In 2005 we followed the Lewis and Clark Trail, in 2006 the Santa Fe Trail and in 2007 the Pony Express Trail.

Furthermore, I have been requiring my students to visit various National Parks in DC for assignments in various capacities since I started teaching 8th grade US History. It's just a great way to connect the Federal City, U.S. History, local history, and our National Parks for my students.

In 2007, Ranger Jen Epstein of the National Mall, started a partnership between my 8th graders and the National Park Service on the Mall. Our first group aptly named the group STAMPS which stands for Students Teaching About Monumental Park Sites. It is also an appropriate acronym for what they get in their National Park Serivce Passport books--stamps. In 2008, our group grew from six core members to 26 members. We also spent a year learning about Lincoln for his bicentennial and traveled to his home states! Check out our blog to see what we did! And we hope for more next year.

So, the National Parks are not foreign to me and they are not foreign to my students. But I hope this opportunity brings a new region to light for my students and a new appreciation for the National Parks and the Rangers for me!


dsadams said...

You are Superwoman! (uniform is wrong for that, though. I like yours better!)

sadie8grady said...

I can't believe you got to see all that wildlife! I'm SOOO jealous. A barred owl. Man, I wish had seen that. I'm dying to see an owl up close. And, imagine my surprise when I found out that your favorite ice cream was blue moon -- my personal fave at Plainwell Ice Cream. You are indeed superwoman.