Park for Every Classroom Workshop Inspires Educators

Park For Every Classroom at Saugus Iron Works NHS
Park For Every Classroom at Saugus Iron Works NHS

Teachers Experience Place-Based Learning at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and Beyond

September 15, 2014 (Salem, MA) — As teachers across Essex County begin a new school year, some will be preparing innovative collaborative service projects with their students that utilize the rich heritage resources of the region. These teachers participated in the “Park for Every Classroom” summer institute offered by the Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage) and the National Park Service at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site. The week-long workshop introduced Essex County educators to a Place-Based, Service-Learning (PBSL) pedagogy. Seventeen participating teachers plan to implement “real-world” projects based on this training and can earn graduate credit through an accompanying course during the school year facilitated by education coordinators at Essex Heritage and Saugus Iron Works. These teachers are also eligible for mini-grants to support their projects through Essex Heritage.

During the August 2014 institute, teachers connected with local resources by participating in a role play about the people of the Saugus Iron Works, analyzing soil samples at the historic site, and exploring the Saugus River watershed.  For the first time, the institute also incorporated a daytrip to the city of Lawrence where teachers took a trolley tour, learned about the relevant labor history of the city, and analyzed local water quality through macro-invertebrate identification. Through these and many other experiences, the teachers became immersed in the Place-Based, Service-Learning ideals of stewardship, service, and academic rigor. 

One teacher participant noted about the institute experience, “I started teaching in 1981. This is the best class I have taken yet to get me excited about September—thank you.  It is nice to do something for the community, not just your class.”

About Park for Every Classroom
Teachers that participated in the Park for Every Classroom program, now in its third year, have developed a wide range or projects – from preschoolers working with local groups to learn about and publicize the need for recycling to middle school music students developing a community-based workshop and concert with younger music enthusiasts.  This year, projects in Amesbury, Peabody, Beverly and Swampscott will focus collaborative service-learning work on natural and cultural resources in these communities. Learn more about past projects, and the impacts these projects have had in each community, online at www.EssexHeritage.org/PBSLprojects.

Essex Heritage and the National Park Service at Saugus Iron Works and Salem Maritime National Historic Sites are part of the larger Park for Every Classroom (PEC) network of National Parks, teachers, and community partners across the Northeast Region focused on implementing PBSL-based programing. Visit www.nps.gov/csi/RELEVANCY/Relevancy  to view the Conservation Study Institute’s report on the piloting of the PEC program.

Generous funding from Cummings FoundationNew England Biolabs Foundation and the National Park Service  make this program possible.