An independent school in Middletown, DE for students in Preschool through Grade 8

Outdoor Education

From its founding, St. Anne’s has recognized the educational opportunities found in the natural world. The School's mission, curriculum, and campus reflect the importance that St. Anne’s places on students' connection with the outdoors.  Our three pillars of Restoration, Education, and Research set the stage for integrated and robust learning in our outdoor environment.

Restoration and Stewardship

  • To restore, develop, and reduce maintenance that would increase the long term sustainability and resiliency of our campus and to ensure access to natural/wild, green spaces for all children. 

  • All stewardship and restoration activities have a focus on student involvement to build a sense of ownership, but also to help develop a sense of resilience and progression; as development of the campus is a long-term process that is built from the hard work of many stewards.

Education
  • To lead the faculty and staff so that all students have consistent access and exposure to learning outdoors,  environmental stewardship, and environmental justice.

  • The severely impaired water-quality of the rapidly developing watershed creates an opportunity for the campus to become a beacon to support a lifelong pursuit of environmental stewardship for the faculty and students.  

Research
  • To engage students throughout their elementary and middle school years in real world authentic scientific research.  

  • To give students a sense of ownership and empowerment in global endeavors, so that they may experience the scientific process first hand.

At St. Anne’s we define outdoor education as education 'in', 'about', and 'for' the out-of-doors. We have adopted 4 tenets of outdoor education as guiding principles for our nature based program.  (Ford,Phyllis 1986). These tenets align with the NAEE Brief Descriptions of the Competencies, Knowledge, and Dispositions nature education.

Tenet 1

A commitment to human responsibility for stewardship or care of the land, to treat the land and all its resources with respect at all times and on all occasions. 

Tenet 2

Knowledge of facts and concepts related to the interrelationship of all facets of the ecosystem.  Understanding the basic ecological, sociological, and cultural principles for land stewardship.  Using this knowledge to make choices based on facts and to weigh the impact of an action on the environment, culture, and humanity.

Tenet 3

To increase the quantity of knowledge of the natural environment from being in the outdoor environment; thus increasing the quality of outdoor time.

Tenet 4

Outdoor education is a continual educational experience. It is not just one field trip, one week at outdoor school, or even a once-a-year event. It must be taught at all levels and pursued throughout life.

Some ways we are achieving these tenets are perceiving nature through the familiar (color, shapes, patterns, lines), using all five senses to become environmentally alert and aware, learning ecological principles (for example, that the sun is the source of all energy).  Studying plants, animals, soil, water, air, and their interdependence.  Solving environmental problems (for example, “How can we help to save our native bees?” “How can we increase access to habitats for birds, bees, monarchs, and other pollinators?”), developing self-reliance through outdoor risk taking, understanding climate and weather.  Understanding the impact of the interrelatedness of culture, human resources, and natural resources, and how a shift in any one of the three can impact on the other two.  We have called on local experts in geology, biology/ecology, and forestry to support our program and interact with our students when possible.  The entire school has been trained in the Project Learning Tree curriculum and we have participated in some citizen science projects including NestWatch and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

Development of our campus is an integral part of our nature based learning program.  Areas available for student exploration and learning include forest areas, bird plot area, pollinator meadow, stream, lake, and native gardens.  In addition to the restoration and creation of habitat spaces we have also embraced infusing diversity and environmental justice into our environmental education.  From recognizing natural scientists of all cultural backgrounds to more authentically exploring the history of all people and their historical connection to our land.  We have also strived to authentically integrate subject areas such as math, literacy, and social studies into our environmental studies.

Our 22 outdoor classrooms located throughout our campus, can be utilized by all grade levels.  Each space has unique nature characteristics to instill a sense of curiosity, wonder, and inspiration.  Each classroom has been named to honor natural scientists and social justice advocates as a way to reflect the diversity and culture of our community.

Explore Our Outdoor Classrooms

Each classroom has it's own unique view of the campus. Students learn while gazing up at intertwined treetops or a view of Silver Lake.  

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Rain shelters have been put up in each classroom to allow for the students to be outside no matter the weather.

Rain shelters have been put up in each classroom to allow for the students to be outside no matter the weather.

Additional structures have been added to help really bring the indoor classroom out. 

Various outdoor classrooms have items within nature that the students can enjoy such as the natural swing found here. 

The classrooms are equipped with rain shelter, tree stump seating, and weatherproof chalk boards.

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Rain shelters have been put up in each classroom to allow for the students to be outside no matter the weather.

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Weatherproof chalk boards have been hand made by faculty to really bring the classroom element outside. 

Rain shelters have been put up in each classroom to allow for the students to be outside no matter the weather.

Rain shelters have been put up in each classroom to allow for the students to be outside no matter the weather.

The classrooms are equipped with rain shelter, tree stump seating, and weatherproof chalk boards.

The classrooms are equipped with rain shelter, tree stump seating, and weatherproof chalk boards.

The classrooms are equipped with rain shelter, tree stump seating, and weatherproof chalk boards.

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Additional structures have been added to help really bring the indoor classroom out. 

Each classroom has it's own unique view of the campus. Students learn while gazing up at intertwined treetops or a view of Silver Lake.  

Each classroom is made to embrace the natural architecture surrounding it. 

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Various outdoor classrooms have items within nature that the students can enjoy such as the natural swing found here. 

Each classroom is made to embrace the natural architecture surrounding it. 

Additional structures have been added to help really bring the indoor classroom out. 

Additional structures have been added to help really bring the indoor classroom out. 

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Weatherproof chalk boards have been hand made by faculty to really bring the classroom element outside. 

Porter Potties have been scattered around campus for accessibility.

Each teacher has cultivated their own outdoor space with additions that add their personal stamp such as inviting entry ways. 

Each classroom has it's own unique view of the campus. Students learn while gazing up at intertwined treetops or a view of Silver Lake.  

Changes in weather do not deter our students from utilizing their outdoor spaces. Accommodations such as snow suits, head to toe waders, and the occasional camp fire help keep students comfortable as they learn among nature.

Media Features:

Featured in the News!

Our exceptional outdoor program was featured  on 6ABC news at the start of our 2020-21 school year. Check out the video above and hear teacher and student testimonies to the integration of outdoor education into their everyday school experience. 

Return to the Outdoors.

Watch our latest video that celebrates the spirit of our community at St. Anne's and the wonderful outdoor education program we have. Hear testimonials from our parents,  students, teachers, and our head of school.