What Grade Would Have Been YOUR Favorite at Ada Christian School?
Ada Christian School has a hidden gem that students eagerly anticipate every year.
Every time they enter a new grade, children dive into a new aspect of Outdoor Integrated Education. From caring for goats, to tending to the greenhouse, to feeding the birds, students love practicing this special stewardship of God’s creation.
I had goosebumps as I listened to Principal Melissa Brower telling me about the amazing things her students are doing and learning. I have to see these incredible spaces for myself!
Learning is Flexible at Ada Christian School
Students of every grade enjoy the school, but specific jobs begin in 3rd grade, Principal Brower told me.
The 3rd grade students are the Bird Watchers. It’s their job to keep the 30 bird feeders on campus filled and to identify the birds that visit. They take this job seriously.
“The Downy Woodpeckers are our fans,” observed one 3rd grader. “We have seen four of them already. I think they love us.”
One day when Principal Brower was observing a third grade math lesson, a student suddenly whispered, “There’s a new one.”
The classroom fell silent as the teacher very slowly pulled out a camera and took a picture of the new bird at the feeder outside their window.
After it flew away, their teacher asked, “What did you notice about the bird?”
The class dove into a discussion about the shape and colors of its feet, feathers, bill and more.
Principal Brower Is Amazed at the Impact of Outdoor Education
“Let’s Google it!” the class suggested as they wondered about the bird.
“Technology fit in so fluidly here,” says Brower.
After the bird was identified and added to their sighting chart, the class picked back up with their math lesson as if the interruption had never occurred.
Principal Brower was struck by the interest students expressed in a feathered friend – not that students noticed the bird, but that they saw the bird. “They noticed details and took the time to really observe nature around them.”
Everyone Has a Job to Do at Ada Christian School
Students get to be in charge of something different each year.
“It builds such a sense of community,” Brower told me.
Fourth graders are Greenhouse Keepers and 5th graders take care of the goats. Sixth graders tend to the 50 chickens while the 7th and 8th graders help manage the plants in the hoophouse and gardens. They also monitor the wind and solar energy generated by the school’s wind turbine and solar panels.
Even the resident cat has a job at ACS! Mr. Mittens kills one or two mice each day and lays them beside his food dishes. When the milkmaids arrive to milk the goats, they give Mr. Mittens a little goat’s milk.
“He loves the milk,” laughed Principal Brower. “He’s gained so much weight! We tell the kids that we all have chores to do here and Mr. Mittens helps to keep the rodents out of our barn.”
“Because They Grow It, They Will Eat It”
Brower delights in seeing their outdoor program pouring over into the kid’s lives at home.
One student asked for a bird feeder for her birthday so she could identify the birds that came to it. Other children who wouldn’t eat vegetables before working in the school’s garden now love salad.
Seeing the program impact students beyond the walls of the school excites Principal Brower, the teachers and families at Ada Christian School.
“I just love it here!” she said. And she’s pretty sure your family will, too!
Want to learn more about Ada Christian School? Mark your calendars for their January 15 open house!