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our schools many hands make light work

By James J. Brescia, Ed.D. County Superintendent of Schools “It is not only one person’s work, it’s really a partnership and collaboration during all these years.”—Cristo You have heard the saying “many hands make light work. John Heywood, a fifteenth century English writer known for his plays, poems, and collection of proverbs, is identified as the author of this saying. This month’s article is a celebration of the current partnerships between the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education and our Rotary Clubs, business partners, and the local community. Education becomes even more compelling when it includes the entire community. When the members of our local towns pull together for a united cause, our ability to serve is enhanced. The type of change or transformation that occurs when the entire community joins forces is something greater than a small group, or any individual can achieve alone. Communities are diverse, include all ages, different backgrounds, multiple talents, and varied skills. When we work together, mentors arise, young are inspired by the old, the strong assist those less able, and we serve the greater good. Only together, as a community, can we serve beyond our individual means. Earlier in the year, I wrote about the San Luis Obispo Rotary Clubs joining forces to assist with the renovation of our Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School amphitheater, cabins, and other projects. A conversation that started in a coffee shop with Steve Geil, past president of the Cayucos Seaside Rotary Club eventually involved all three San Luis Obispo Clubs, Morro Bay, Cambria, Los Osos, a club in Orange County, a club in Oregon and even a club in Mexico. Several other Rotary clubs have sent in donations for the renovation of the amphitheater benches and have volunteered time. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education operates the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor Educational Campus that is tucked away in the

hills above San Luis Obispo. These 205 protected acres include a nature preserve, a school campus, a one-room school house, incredible learning resources and a regional education conference center. The school provides hands-on learning opportunities for students studying science and ecology in a natural setting. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education has been providing outdoor education to the community for over 40 years. Nearly 300,000 students and 10,000 adults have enjoyed and benefited from the programs and facilities which were previously part of Camp San Luis Obispo. When students participate in outdoor education, their understanding of the environment and human communities grow. Stronger environmental attitudes, civic responsibility, and community participation strengthen through outdoor education. These types of schools are one tool in building a solid foundation of stewardship with the next generation. Outdoor education can connect families and the greater community with our schools. Many times when classrooms are outdoors an entry point for involvement in education is presented. The first time my father became more involved with my school in the late 1960s was on an outdoor education field trip. I have many people throughout the county stop me to relay stories about chaperoning on a field trip. Some of the stories have included recollections about sleeping at Rancho El Chorro as a youth. I commend our local, state and other Rotary Clubs for their dedication to our community, our youth, and society. In a 2007 study conducted by Wheeler and Thumlert, the building of self-sufficiency, self-esteem and leadership skills were just a few of the identified benefits of participating in outdoor education. For many students, outdoor school is the first time they have ever been immersed in natural settings. For others, it is their first time spending the night away from their families. The skills and experiences gained through outdoor schools instill self-confidence, help youth realize their leadership potential and make them more self-sufficient. Outdoor schools also provide older students with volunteer teaching opportunities, helping them become stronger leaders and more college and career ready. According to teacher assessments of students, children who attended a week-long residential outdoor school program showed statistically significant gains in all eight constructs tested, including self-esteem (9.65%), leadership (7.36%), relationship with peers (11.39%), motivation to learn (4.32%), cooperation (4.95%), conflict resolution (11.73%), problem-solving (20.44%) and behavior in class (3.4%). (Parrish, et al, 2005). In the American Institutes for Research (2005) study of out-



Journal PLUS

August 2017 Journal Plus Magazine  
August 2017 Journal Plus Magazine