TWU partners with Langley Forest School

This September, Trinity Western University’s Eco-system Study Area will echo with not only the sounds of birds and forest creatures, but also with the voices of pre-school and kindergarten children, thanks to an agreement between the University and the Langley Forest School. The agreement, which involves TWU’s School of Education and the Environmental Studies program, will help to serve local children and families through unique play-based learning and environmental stewardship activities.

“The partnership with Langley Forest School provides a unique mentorship opportunity for our student teachers, as well as the opportunity for reflective practice,” said School of Education Dean Kimberly Franklin, Ed.D. “The focus on the importance of stewardship growing from a rooted sense of place is a philosophical stance present in our curriculum development course, our indigenous education course, our science and pedagogy courses, and our professional year program.”

In addition, Franklin said, the partnership supports the potential launch of an Early Learning B.Ed. stream, which would enhance the School’s offerings of its Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts in Educational Leadership – Special Education degrees.

TWU’s Environmental Studies Program has demonstrated its educational outreach to the Langley community through its Salmon in the Valley program, which brings elementary school children to the campus and has been well received by Langley and other school districts. “Faculty, staff, and students are interested in the educational value and community outreach the partnership offers,” said David Clements, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies. “This is a good fit with the overall goals of the Enviromental Studies program, as well as with the intentions of the donors of the Blaauw Eco Forest. It’s a win-win.”

While TWU’s Eco-system Study Area on campus will be a primary location of the Forest School classes, the University’s Blaauw Eco Forest will serve as a special field trip destination throughout the year. In 2013, the Blaauw family generously donated funding for TWU to purchase the parcel of Glen Valley Forest in honour of their beloved husband and father, Thomas Blaauw. The family has since donated a further $1M toward the purchase of two additional parcels of land adjacent to the existing forest, to preserve green space in the community Thomas loved so dearly.

A number of environmental studies students have extensively researched the forest, finding over 200 different species of mammals, bird, reptiles, and amphibians on the property. Of particular significance was the discovery of two at-risk species: the Red-Legged frog and the Pacific Side Band snail.

The first of its kind in the Fraser Valley, Langley Forest School provides an alternative educational option for young learners. The School launched its preschool program in 2014-15, utilizing outdoor spaces such as Derby Reach and Williams Park. Due to the program’s success, Langley Forest School will launch a kindergarten stream for the 2015-2016 academic year.

“The Langley Forest School’s aim to educate their students on the environment and immerse them in the environment very much mirrors what we are trying to do in our university environmental studies program,” Clements said. “Kids today, from a young age, grow up not knowing much about the environment—a disconnect with serious consequences. The Langley Forest School promises to reconnect the next generation.”

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