A Classroom Teacher’s Perspective: Noel Leon

Prior to coming to High Trails I was a classroom teacher. I started my full time teaching career as a middle school science teacher and was very excited about sharing the subject I am passionate about with my students. My first couple of years were pretty disheartening because not only were most of my days spent on classroom management, but also subjects like the sciences and arts were not appreciated by public schools due to the stress brought on by the No Child Left Behind Act.

noel-classroomI loved the idea of teaching, but wanted something more, so I decided to pursue becoming a high school biology teacher and hoped that I would have more flexibility in the higher level setting. I was lucky enough to be hired as a biology and general science teacher for a small district in California and in the 3 years of working there I grew as an educator.

I was able to get students excited about the possibilities in continuing their education in science. I started an outdoor adventure program at the school with one of my colleagues in which we took students of outdoor adventures and for many of them this was their first outdoor experience.

I soon realized that there is something missing in the public school setting. As a science teacher I was able to bring in all my passion and excitement for the subject to the classroom and share it to the best of my ability, but I could never replace the actual experience. This is what High Trails does for our students.

noel-snoopyMost of my classroom students had never experien ced an outdoor setting where they could learn to appreciate what our natural world has in store for us. They never even realized they would like the outdoors and that there is an opportunity to study outdoor science, because they were never exposed to these types of opportunities.

Being a part of this experience for the many students who come to High Trails is an amazing opportunity. A week here at High Trails may be the first time for these students to go outside and learn science in the natural setting itself. They can actually use all their senses and essentially all their learning styles to gain an appreciation for science. The students who struggle in the traditional classroom setting have a chance to shine and learn that they can actually appreciate and understand what they are being taught. With the experiences they have here and the appreciation they gain, they have a better understanding of what opportunities are available to them.

Not only is the High Trails experience great for the students, but for the 5th and 6th grade teachers it can be a wonderful tool. I have talked to many elementary school teachers about the struggles they have in being able to teach the science standards required of them in a way that will reach a large part of their student population. As a teacher it is so helpful to have resources to make the job of teaching all the required standards that much easier.

Being a classroom teacher myself and understanding the pressures and uncertainty that come with the job, it is a relief to know that a place like High Trails will always do it’s best to provide quality education from passionate and loving professionals. I am proud to be a part of this community in the trees, bringing a better experience in science class to students and teachers alike.





At High Trails Outdoor Science School, we literally force our instructors to write about elementary outdoor education, teaching outside, learning outside, our dirty classroom (the forest…gosh), environmental science, outdoor science, and all other tree hugging student and kid loving things that keep us engaged, passionate, driven, loving our job, digging our life, and spreading the word to anyone whose attention we can hold for long enough to actually make it through reading this entire sentence. Whew…. www.dirtyclassroom.com

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