Meet Ms. Rachel Warren, Outdoor Specialist
“Be curious! Don’t wait to be told something, go out and discover, question and solve things that interest you. That’s where real learning is–being able to look at something and wonder.”– Ms. Rachel
Ms. Rachel has been with Innocademy Allegan for six years and started as a first and second grade teacher. Innocademy’s partnership with the Outdoor Discovery Center inspired her interest in nature-based learning. She is now the Outdoor Specialist Teacher and works with all the grade levels for an hour each day to tie general subjects to science and nature. “What we work on is helping students see their connection to the natural world and why it’s important,” said Ms. Rachel. “Our goal is that these connections help bring out their own environmental passions and interests that they can continue to grow and build on.”
Ms. Rachel has a background in general education and is a facilitator for several environmental learning programs. Her training includes the Department of Natural Resource’s Project Wild and the Forestry Service’s Project Learning Tree program. She is also working toward a Michigan Outdoor Education Environmental degree.
As an outdoor specialist, Ms. Rachel ties environmental education into specials such as art and P.E. An outdoor P.E. activity can become a nature study lesson that inspires an art project for a fluid lesson plan that spans multiple disciplines. “The easiest way to get kids connected is to take them out and let them explore and discover things they find interesting. Seeing their enthusiasm and amazement at new things is truly inspiring,” said Ms. Rachel.
She encourages students to journal and observe how nature changes over time and throughout different seasons. For her older students, Ms. Rachel asks them to find an initiative to improve the school like creating a composting program or setting up rain barrels.
Ms. Rachel also works with the Outdoor Discovery Center to organize activities both on and off campus such as snowshoeing or survival skills training. Her middle schoolers are currently learning skills like knot-tying and safe fire-building. With help from the ODC, they are going on a field trip to a campground to practice their skills. “The great thing about Innocademy is that they see the benefit of nature-based programs and let you try things,” said Ms. Rachel. “There’s creative freedom here for both the students and the teachers, both in the classroom and outdoors.”
Outside of the classroom, Ms. Rachel continues to appreciate the outdoors, paddleboarding, swimming and partaking in other water activities. She loves hiking and camping with her children and dogs and anything that lets them enjoy the great outdoors.