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Classroom Innovation ~ Career Connected Learning

Trees to Sea: a uniquely engaging learning experience

As the new year unfolds, Wind & Oar continues to adapt to the increasing challenges facing schools and other institutions. The recent Portland Public Schools teachers' strike revealed that school funding remains a critical issue ~ one that directly impacts our ability to serve students in the classroom. 

Wind & Oar has a ten plus year track record of providing innovative and effective programs for 5th through 12th grade students in primarily underserved schools. We get regular and consistent feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and the public that these programs add immense value to the learning experience. Our after-school and summer program with community-based organizations are highly sought, but it is our work in schools that sets us apart. Our classes are hands-on exercises in problem solving, self discovery, and career connected learning.

Plainly, this depth and richness of experience comes at a cost, and our school partners are simply no longer able to fund these programs as they have in the past. 

One of our most costly programs is the Trees to Sea curriculum, in partnership with Portland Public’s Alliance High School. It is an 18-30 week program that integrates multiple academic disciplines, including: watershed stewardship, forest management, sustainable forest practices, design, engineering, physics, math, wood shop skills and occasionally literature and history. By the time students finish the program, they have had a peek at several career paths, tried—and sometimes mastered—various shop skills, and have been exposed to the outdoors, both in the forests and on the water. An added benefit of this kind of in-school program is that it drives higher attendance rates, which increases student performance, reduces dropout rates, and help fund the district, so everyone wins.

If this program, and others like it are to continue making a positive impact for our most vulnerable students, we need to step up and make it affordable for schools to offer it.

With your help, we can create a learning experience that becomes a lasting imprint on students who have a difficult time believing in themselves and shows them viable opportunities for their futures.