Edge of the Schoolyard is a place to explore how learning happens amidst efforts to meld together community, policy in practice, and connections with nature in American schools.

The articles reflects my experiences as a network strategist and communications consultant in my professional life, and my efforts as an active grassroots activist and school volunteer in the 10th largest school district in America, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.

Since 2009, I’ve been a consultant focused on creating effective work systems and clear, strategic communications. I’ve honed my skills to be wickedly efficient in work management and communications. At the same time, I’ve accumulated knowledge in Pre-K to 12 policy and programs, including in the inspiring area of environmental literacy, whole school sustainability, and outdoor learning.

All the while, the edges have been blurred between my work life and my volunteer endeavors – like using my communications and policy skills to advocate for basic public school funding, or managing programs and campaigns to provide outdoor learning experiences for children. And then there’s my kiddos – my daughter in elementary school and my son in preschool – who granted me the title of “parent” and the experiences that only this role provides.

I’ve accrued observations and experiences about organizational and systems level approaches – and solutions – that can strengthen education in America. As a systems-thinker, I’m constantly trying to analyze and connect information to put an action plan into place to make change happen. These systems aren’t necessarily happening during the school day or even in the school – but they directly impact the classroom and the school experiences for children, educators and staff, families, and community members.

At the same time, as I’ve gotten deeper into promoting connecting kids to nature, I see that this approach is not only about bringing kids out into the deepest parts of nature, but about accessing nature at the closest spots to them – sometimes on the edges of their schoolyard. I’ve seen how not only schools but whole school districts and even cities are working to connect children with nature in the best interests of education, public health, career prep, and our environment. Incorporating environmental stewardship as a tenet of learning is a conversation that too often happens on the edge of the actual learning experience.

So much happens in the hours before and after school, and in the days before children are school-age that influences students’ experiences. I sought to meld together the happenings that were happening at this edge of formal student learning.

I’m excited write articles that meld my passions and interests for creating learning environments that our children and communities need.

Thanks for joining me on the edge!

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