Westcave E2 Outdoor School (Fall 2020)
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Overview of Westcave E2 Outdoor School
Westcave E2 Outdoor School is a youth-centered “micro-school” learning community for small groups of children (10 kids/group) between the ages of 9 and 13 (G4-7) that brings the relationship with the natural world into focus through interest-based learning journeys at the iconic Westcave Preserve. With success spanning nearly half-a-century, Westcave is a national leader in environmental education and the movement to connect children to nature, and our work has "changed the nature of nature" in Central Texas. Our E2 Outdoor School extends a proven, innovative model of successful human development and academic achievement by connecting young people to the ground under their feet, and air and water we all share.
Goal of E2 Outdoor School
Westcave’s goal for our E2 Outdoor School is to create an enlightening experience for students in small groups/pods of 10 kids with a naturalist for their guide, and a web of community partners with deep roots to the places the kids call home. Students will be empowered to explore, protect and transform the world around them; and through the experience they will address issues of public health and equity while cultivating authentic, functional literacy, deeper wisdom, and a stronger grounding in their own well-being, as well as those around them.
Westcave E2 Outdoor School is based on proven model of learning that leverages “natural curiosity” with Westcave’s ecological expertise to build interdisciplinary learning journeys. We start with a comprehensive student interest survey to understand each student’s interests and how they prefer to communicate what they’ve learned. Using that backdrop, we co-design the learning journey and support them as they create their own questions, chase curiosity, investigate, and discover on their own the answers they have been seeking. This style of learning creates a legacy connection to nature, and cultivates life-long confidence in their ability to solve problems, lead, and effectively communicate complex topics to diverse audiences.
This is a semester long experience over the course of 4 months. You can sign up for the Fall semester that runs from September to December. Our Spring Semester runs from January to May and a separate registration is required for each semester. Parents commit to the full cost of the semester when registering.
$600 per student, per month (September-December) for a total of $2,400/student for each semester.
For more information or to sign up please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Westcave’s Safety Precautions
With over four decades operating our Preserve, we have consistently prioritized safety and wellness as core elements of restorative health for both our property and the people who visit. We recognize the risks associated with COVID-19. To balance our children’s love for exploring and socialization with the responsibility we have to operate safely, we have adopted procedures and best practices that incorporate our experience in environmental education, public school nature-based education, best practices shared by those who opened camps on school campuses over the summer, and guidance from the CDC.
List of Safety Measures
- Experiences at Westcave Preserve will be outdoors; however in the case of a severe weather event (like a thunderstorm, or tornado) we will open our indoor Environmental Learning Center.
- Regular reviews of our safe practice procedures for students and staff;
- Special intake and checkout procedures that include daily wellness checks before kids enter Westcave. We ask all parents to remain in their cars during check-in and out procedures to ensure everyone’s safety. Thank you for your patience.
- Staff will encourage regular handwashing and/or sanitizing throughout the day.
- One student in the restroom at a time with required self-cleaning between use;
- Restroom doors propped open between uses to improve airflow for any airborne viruses;
- Masks are required unless eating and drinking, or if health risks require the mask to be removed temporarily.
- We encourage a 10-foot social distancing practice (instead of the recommended 6-foot).
- Groups will be restricted to pods of 10 kids . The kids will see the same instructors throughout the semester.
For additional general safety precautions Westcave is taking Click Here.
What do you mean “proven model of learning”?
- We have been a leader in environmental education for over forty years. And, before joining Westcave, our Executive Director was an internationally recognized outdoor-educator and administrator in Round Rock ISD where he completely transformed a public school’s learning model to be nature based. Scores and teacher satisfaction went up, and teachers reported fewer behavioral issues.
We are a homeschool family, does this work for us?
- Yes, we fit nicely into homeschool structures. If you build your own pod, we can tailor the experience to meet any specific curriculum objectives you might have. If you prefer a more “unschooling” environment, we can do that too. The experience is literacy based, outcome driven, and highly engaging.
We still want our kids to be enrolled in public school, does this work for us?
- Public school districts are still determining their path, and things might vary from one district to the next, so we can’t speak directly to how it will work with your particular district, but, we do a couple of suggestions to make E2 Outdoor School on Tuesdays and Thursdays a “best fit” for your public-school student(s):
- Flexible Days/Build in Time for School Work. With a limited number of students per “class,” and an opportunity to build your own “pod”, we can build in “public school time” for your students based on what your district might require.
- Coordinating with “Asynchronous learning”: if your district’s virtual learning model is asynchronous, “attendance” might be based on completion of assignments (i.e. – and not whether the student was “present” from 9-9:10 a.m. that morning). In that case, you can do your public school work in one of our learning blocks at Westcave, or work on it after hours.