Inspiring exploration, appreciation, and conservation of our natural world.

Summer Institute 2013: A Professional Learning Community for Place Based Education

Kerry Lalone, CMS GTSI teacherTeachers on Inland Seas School Ship

In the past four years, GTSI has established a core group of veteran teachers who are dedicated to place-based educational opportunities for their students that not only teach specific curriculum standards, but also help students connect with the community and the natural resources that define the Grand Traverse region.

On August 12 -13, 2013 the GTSI will provide a day and a half of training, field trips, and preliminary planning for 2013-2014 involvement in this grant-funded program that provides financial assistance, resources, community partner connections, and curriculum-focused support for a Professional Learning Community (PLC) of highly motivated teachers.

Brian Zimmerman shares plant info

It is our intent to support teachers so they can provide rich learning experiences for their students that will result in a deeper relationship with the community and a clearer understanding of their potential as active citizens.

Students in the Stewardship Initiative work side-by-side with community partners who serve in important decision-making roles. They provide powerful mentoring experiences for young people. Our hope is that students will see themselves as the next generation of decision-makers, and better understand that the health and welfare of this community is dependent upon the care and preservation of our unique vital natural resources.

To Kick off Summer Institute on August 12th, GTSI teachers will gather at the Boardman River Nature Center to learn about how to integrate place-based education into their school’s curriculum and mission.

Community Partner, Kay Charter, Co-owner of Charter Sanctuary and Executive Director of Saving Birds Thru Habitat will present an interactive workshop on the importance of habitat diversity for the health of all wildlife, especially birds. Kay will offer GTSI teachers free on-site field trips to Charter Sanctuary, and in-school programs next school year, to help teams get involved in creating healthy habitat that attracts good bugs and birds.

Charter Sanctuary

Students at Charter Sanctuary in Omena learning about habitat for birds.

Connor Miller, the Coordinator of Youth Civic Engagement at the Traverse Bay Area ISD will launch a new partnership between GTSI and the AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer program. Eight VISTA volunteers will be working closely with GTSI teams in each school to provide a variety of skills including science and technology curriculum development, grant writing, resource gathering, and videography to support teams as they execute their year-long stewardship plans.

Kim Ranger-1

Sarah Pierson cropped










Veteran GTSI teachers Kim Ranger (left above) and Sarah Pierson (right above) from the Elk Rapids Public Schools will lead a workshop and planning session called Curriculum Connections for Place-based Education (PBE): An Inquiry-based Model for Planning and Assessment. This workshop will help teachers plan units of study that integrate PBE stewardship opportunities and curriculum standards into a year- long plan to be submitted as a grant proposal in late October for teams to receive financial assistance from GTSI.

In the spirit of a place-based professional learning community, on August 13th teachers tour three GTSI schools to become familiar with each site, and experience first-hand how each team planned and integrated place-based stewardship opportunities into their school curriculum and mission last year, and then discuss and brainstorm ideas for next year’s plans.

For more information on the GTSI Summer Institute email Jen Strauss or call 941-0960×15