Stories from the Field

Thank You, Teachers!

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Amber and her students at Rodeo Beach

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to celebrate and appreciate our wonderful teachers and educators. We are humbled by your dedication to teaching and commitment to your students’ success. Your hard work makes it possible for students to experience a NatureBridge program. For that we are incredibly grateful! We’d like to highlight a few teachers who have gone above and beyond to make a NatureBridge program possible for their students.

Jamie Garcia, Teacher at Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School in Los Angeles, CA  

Jamie had planned a spring 2019 program at our Santa Monica Mountains campus but the Woolsey Fire in November changed all of that. NatureBridge’s program sites were severely damaged by the fire forcing the difficult decision to cancel programming. It seemed like the end of Alliance’s trip, but Jamie was determined to provide her deserving students with a NatureBride experience and she did. Alliance students were able to transfer their program to Yosemite and experience Yosemite and snow for the first time!

Alliance Burton students enjoying the snow in Yosemite
Jamie (front row, second from the left) and her 9th grade students

Amber Hespeler, Teacher at Anna Kirchgater Elementary in Sacramento, CA

Amber is very student focused and fully supportive of our program. She worked SO HARD to appropriately challenge her students and make them feel safe and comfortable in a new environment. She spent a lot of time before the trip preparing her students and setting them up for success. There is a lot of mindfulness and intentionality during the planning process and while they are here. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious!

Amber (front) and her 5th grade students

Indi Ekanayake, Dean of Instruction at Rainier Prep in Seattle, WA

Indi is a former science teacher and now Dean of Instruction at Rainier Prep, a new charter school in Seattle. His role involves supervising teachers, supporting student success and developing partnerships with organizations like NatureBridge that provide access to resources that build his students' confidence as learners, scientists and leaders in their community. Indi puts his students first and is dedicated to finding and providing meaningful experiences for them. This school year, Indi organized Rainier Prep's first trip to NatureBridge in Olympic National Park for 69 8th graders and nine staff! Indi hosted parent and guardian information nights to encourage student participation and championed the trip from day one. Indi was instrumental in creating a partnership with NatureBridge that will have a lasting impact on his students.

Indi's 8th grade students canoeing on Lake Crescent
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