On one of our last few days of school this December before break, there was more going on than just holiday parties, making ornaments as parent gifts, reading holiday stories, and an all-school sing-a-long. In between all of that, my 3rd graders managed to squeeze in a quick FaceTime iPad conference with our science teacher. This, in and of itself, isn't so unusual. But, the FaceTiming was a tad farther than just the other side of campus. It happens that way when Tim Decker, our science teacher, happens to be in Costa Rica! [Rumor on the street, our 5th graders also FaceTimed Costa Rica and Mr. Decker as well.]
Christmas and Costa Rica don't normally go hand in hand in our neck of the woods... but they do this year. Using part of his Christmas break and the last few days before break, Tim Decker flew south to spend some time at The Cloud Forest School. The Cloud Forest school (el Centro de Educación Creativa) is an is an independent PreK--11th Grade school located on 100+ acres of cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica.
The reason for this mid-December visit? To foster an environmental & educational friendship with a like-minded school. When you look at their vision, it is easy to see the parallels to ECS, a Maryland "green" school since 2006. From the Cloud Forest School's website:
"Our vision is to help foster a sustainable future for the Earth by educating individuals to: Love, respect and protect the natural environment; Strive for justice and peace as well as academic excellence, and; Work towards conserving biodiversity and enriching community life."Like-minded indeed!
Additionally, while packing for Costa Rican warm-weather-wear during our typical Maryland winter season, Decker packed heavy for his trip down south. He took a suitcase-full if needed school supplies that were brought in by ECS students & their families.
Once down in Costa Rica, Decker met with school leaders and teachers to brainstorm future collaborations between the two schools. He also shared a virtual tour of ECS that our 5th graders created with their 1:1 iPad program using the iMovie app. Plans are in the works between the two schools for future video-conferencing visits and student activities comparing and contrasting our riverside/wooded school campus with their Cloud Rainforest campus. Wheels of educational ideas are turning on both sides!
Eagle Cove School's Parent Association funded Tim Decker's trip through the sales of special eco-Tshirts. First through fifth graders submitted designs centered around an environmental quote. The winning design (by one of our ECS 2nd graders) included a quote of her own creation.
As quoted in the December 2012 Bay Weekly, "'This project seems perfect for our students,' Decker says. "It brings together science, language, geology, culture, technology, and service.'" To learn more, be sure to check out Bay Weekly's link or go to the the 12/11/2012 article in The Arundel Patch.
Given the mutual environmental passion of both schools, it's easy to see the magnetic attraction. Additionally, given the lens of community stewardship and collaborative spirit of learning that are at play, the following quote seems to strike a chord:
"A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed...It feels an impulsion...this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons." ~ American author, Richard Bach
|Mural in the works at The Cloud Forest School (photo taken & shared by Tim Decker)|
|White-faced monkey in the Costa Rican jungle (photo taken & shared by Tim Decker)|
Classroom FaceTiming pic and Tshirt pic from my camera; map of Costa Rica from http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/camerica/cr.htm; Classroom pic of Tim Decker from http://bayweekly.com/articles/news/article/chesapeake-bay-monteverde-cloud-forest