Gateway teacher Jill Jackson is working hard to enrich the lives and learning experience of her students. Students in Jackson’s rebound class are walking in the shoes of an author in a way that most could only dream. Students have recently begun studying the pursuit of one man to walk the 2,160 mile trail in order to help raise funds and awareness for his brother with cerebral palsy.
The Appalachian trail spans the eastern United States between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. Hikers pass through several states in during the journey, traveling through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and lastly, Maine.
Students in Jackson’s class began learning about the trail the same way a thru-hiker would, by studying the science behind the hike. Jackson, with the help of fellow WCS instructor and hiker herself Nikki Beard, helped students understand firsthand the process of preparing for a thru-hike. Students were able to estimate how much weight the could carry in their pack, and thanks to Beard, test their guesses against an actual trail ready bag. Beard demonstrated some of the tools utilized on the trail, including showing students her trail stove and discussing water filtration.
On Thursday, Nov. 12, Jackson’s students had the once in a lifetime opportunity to “meet” the man whose journey they had been following so closely, Jeff Alt, author of “A Walk For Sunshine.” The opportunity was made possible after Jackson reached out to Alt about the work students were doing in class to follow his journey. Jackson’s class developed a list of questions for Alt surrounding his time on the trail and experiences after.
The hands-on study exemplifies the model of project-based learning, an initiative WCS has endeavored to utilize in classrooms corporation-wide. In a typical rebound class, students grades 9-12 students are given the opportunity to recover any missing or needed credits for their diploma via computer courses and testing. However, Jackson notes she wanted to give students the opportunity to learn together through a book study, allowing a more hands on and interactive approach the the course.
Instead of receiving a credit via the computer, students are now able to have a hands-on experience with not only Beard, but those who have hiked the trail.
Alt took a moment to encourage Jackson’s class to follow their dreams to enrich the lives of others, a paramount principal in the WCS mission statement.
“It all starts with a thought,” stated Alt. “After that you just put one foot after another. Don’t focus on the overall goal. Take the process day by day until you reach your dream.”