by Martha Rhodes
Building on the article “What Clonlara Students Learn Outside the Classroom,” let’s look at what happens when Clonlara students use the out-of-doors as a classroom………………………..
The first week of school our entire student body, and staff, attended an all school camping trip. This year we went to Friend’s Lake in Chelsea, Michigan. Imagine the benefit of taking 30 kids camping in the pouring rain (which it rained both days we were gone), complaining the entire time, sleeping on the floor in wood cabins, cooking over an open fire, and having no indoor plumbing. At the time the trip was planned it sounded like a good idea – everyone but me, the principal, was to attend. As the trip got closer the staff thought it would be good for the students to see me in a different environment than school, but I argued my son (who attends the school) wouldn’t get the full benefit from his mother being present. To no avail…………I got out voted.
The bonding that happened in the rain really was amazing. Being outside of the classroom really was a different experience. I saw students who would normally not interact with each other help get a fire started, help each other cook dinner, and try things to keep themselves busy in the rain that some may not have attempted in another situation. Everyone laughed, including me. I saw students having great conversations with each other and with the staff. And I got to see my staff in a totally different light. I’m not sure any of us learned much about the ABCs and we didn’t take any academic books, but we learned how to get along, we learned about each other, we learned how to be a little more tolerant, we learned a few new things, and we learned that we could ‘do it.’
I really do have the most amazing staff and students in Ann Arbor!!! I have a new appreciation for the staff and how they do their jobs – a whole new perspective and respect.
As it turned out, there wasn’t enough room for me to spend the night (plus I had to go home to let the dog out) but I returned early the next morning with coffee for the staff and all was forgiven. Going into the trip I kept thinking of ways to get out of it, but afterwards I’m really glad that my staff insisted. It was truly an eye opening experience. Wonder where we will go next year????