The Antrim Elementary School Reverence of Place Committee
When Antrim Elementary School Principal Debbie Lesure heard a 3rd grader say, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a woods in Antrim?”, she brought her staff together to see how they could address this question, because of course in a rural town like Antrim, there is a lot of woods! The Reverence of Place Committee was formed, made up of Debbie, 1st grade teacher Michele Johnson, 4th grade teacher Fabiola Woods, Judith Bernardi the School Nurse and Ann Marie Given, a Paraprofessional. Together these women put together a comprehensive curriculum to truly build a reverence of place for the students in their school. Using the McCabe Forest (189 acre preserve owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, within walking distance of the school) students explored vernal pools, searched for insects, examined trees, studied habitats, and had many hands-on experiences. They became engaged in their learning by creating Quests, using clues to guide visitors to special spots. The year culminated with a special family event where children got to teach their parents about the woods they had come to love.
By linking the rubrics of education into the natural world, both environments were enhanced. School and learning became richer and the McCabe Forest now has a huge fan club. Thanks to the Reverence of Place Initiative, it’s not only cool to have a woods in Antrim, but it’s even cooler that children and their families know about it and feel a sense of connection to it.