“I think IslandWood is important because of experiential learning, and because of getting outside. It’s more than just knowing facts and knowing things inside the classroom. It has to do with applying the knowledge and having some connection to it and to each other and to the land.”
Kimberly is an educator in the Seattle area. In 2017, she was awarded the Patsy Collins Award for Excellence in Education, Environment, and Community. Made possible thanks to funding from an anonymous donor at the Seattle Foundation, the annual Patsy Collins award honors extraordinary teachers in Washington K-12 schools who extend learning beyond the classroom. This award was established to honor Patsy Collins, a philanthropist and civic leader who cared deeply about education and stewarding our environment and natural resources for generations to come. IslandWood is honored to help review and select the award winners.
Can you tell us how you first came to know about IslandWood and why you became a supporter?
I taught at Highline School in Burien, WA for several years. The high school building was just torn down recently, it was an older school, and the area is fairly diverse with a lot of lower socioeconomic neighborhoods, middle class, immigrants, and some very high-priced areas as well. The schools tend to struggle in the area, and it can feel like there is not a lot of support. I was working on a project for my 9th grade integrated science students and wanted to help them figure out something they could do for their environment. I really tried to make it an open-ended project, and give them standards and resources, and not necessarily restrict them. I wanted them to do something project-based and ‘out in the world’ rather than into a textbook. So, I reached out to a woman named Mary Eidmann from the city of Burien who was an environmental educator, and she helped me bounce around ideas, and after I completed my project, she nominated me for the Pasty Collins Award. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would win.
Why do you think IslandWood is important?
I think IslandWood is important because of experiential learning, and because of getting outside. It’s more than just knowing facts and knowing things inside the classroom. It has to do with applying the knowledge and having some connection to it and to each other and to the land.
Do you have any insights or thoughts to share about environmental education or experiential learning?
I had started a FIRST robotics team, and through that I learned and shifted my feeling on education – that education can and should have a purpose and a deeper connection. But doing that all myself, and doing it alone, without support was very difficult, and we really need more people working and supporting each other in this vision. In this robotics club I co-founded, experiential learning is really fundamental. I think students should get more responsibility and guidance, and think more about how they impact the world.
What do you hope for the future of IslandWood?
I would hope that IslandWood would continue with the experiential learning in as many ways as they can, and contribute to the greater good. To help students be leaders and do work that’s not just a real life scenario, but actual real life. It’s not just about being told about the water system. It’s about teaching how to take a water sample, and then how to use that information. We want you to arrange something in your community, like litter pickup or a PSA or write a letter to a local politician or office. You know, the leaders of the future are the leaders of today.