For the 2013-2014 Forest Kindergarten year, we relied on generous grants from The Byrne Foundation, The Wellborn Ecology Fund and the Vermont Community Foundation. The majority of these funds, totaling $10,500, was used to hire our Forest Teacher. In addition to planning and preparation for each Friday, Meg co-taught every Forest Friday. In other words, we funded an additional teacher for 1/5 of our student’s school year. We spent a bit on supplies for our students and space, including great puddle pants, a dutch oven, and some back-up cold-weather gear. Being frugal we were able to carry forward over $2,000 of our initial funding into our second year of Forest Kindergarten. For the second year we also were awarded a grant from the Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation.
For the 2015-2016 school year, we plan to support four Forest Kindergarten classrooms. In the first year a forest classroom costs $8,200 to run, $7,000 to pay the Forest Teacher (a full eight hour day one day per week, all year, in addition to midweek planning and preparation), and $1,200 for gear and supplies…like rope for lashing together debris shelters and chain to hang the dutch oven above the open fire. For classrooms already up and running the annual expense is decreased by the cost of some of the durable goods we will not have to repurchase, and so a continuing program costs only $7,500. We encourage classes which already have sufficient staffing to do a forest day without hiring additional staff, though we have found the dedicated Forest Teacher to be critical to the depth of programming we’ve been able to offer.
We will also facilitate a Professional Learning Community for interested educators in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. If we can provide this professional development at no cost to the educators, we will. If we can offer our time modeling forest classroom routines with their students, we will.
The cost for four classrooms with one day per week Forest Teachers, and sufficient professional development to support these classrooms, and all other local educators interested in dipping their toes into forest classroom work is $34,675.
Your donation will support the nature-based education of young students in the Upper Valley during the 2015-2016 school year, while at the same time demonstrating to potential grant funders that the idea of Forest Class programming in public schools has public support. Below is one way to donate. By sending us ten dollars, you let us know that you support our work, and you are counted among the supporters of this idea as we seek further funding to support forest classrooms in schools near and far.
Thank you for supporting our efforts to bring outdoor based education to as many students as possible.
Or, do you have a suggestion of possible funding sources we should know about? Drop us a note with your ideas, thanks!
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