In 2011, Education Outside, in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), launched the Corps for Education Outside. The Corps is the first service corps program in the United States that is building a strong movement of leaders working to transform urban public schools into centers of 21st-century experiential learning, environmental sustainability, and innovation. The Corps for Education Outside harnesses the enthusiasm and passion of college graduates, who serve as the point people for the outdoor experiential education, school greening, and sustainability activities at their K-5 school sites. Corps members play a central role in sparking children's interest in science, building an eco- and food-literate student population, connecting students to the natural world, modeling best outdoor teaching practices for classroom teachers, building strong school communities, and advancing environmental education opportunities within SFUSD. Corps members receive year-round training, mentoring, and support from leading professionals in the growing fields of environmental education, STEM education, green schoolyard design, energy efficiency and conservation, water resources, and the urban agriculture and local food movements.
In 2003, 2006, and 2011, San Francisco voters approved a school facilities bond to bring SFUSD buildings into Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. As a part of this bond, Education Outside (formerly known as the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance) helped to secure a portion of these funds for the design and construction of green schoolyards. Currently, due to the Proposition A bond program, all elementary schools and most middle and high schools have or will receive funds to create a vibrant green schoolyard and outdoor classroom space at their site. Corps members may work to steward and enhance the bond work that has already been done on site or ensure the bond's successful implementation, depending on the stage of the project.
The Corps for Education Outside is a two-year commitment for Corps members. Members become fully integrated into their placement school communities and work with them to embed the use of the outdoor classroom and conservation practices into the fabric of school life. The position is full-time. Mondays through Thursdays are dedicated to teaching and coordinating on site, and Fridays are dedicated to training and/or administration. There are occasional extended and weekend hours dedicated to schoolyard workdays and community events.
The Corps member position is demanding and has many moving parts. Members must possess extraordinary professionalism, maturity, and organizational skills. Corps members must also be strong leaders and communicators in order to effectively lead and organize school communities in and around new environmental initiatives and model exemplary outdoor teaching. While each Corps member is part of a very supportive and collaborative network of educators and is supported by Education Outside staff, much of a Corps member's on-site work requires a high degree of self-reliance, confidence, and initiative.
The pillars of the Corps member program are:
I. Promote the Use and Stewardship of the Outdoor Classroom
Corps members will teach standards-based science curriculum in the outdoor classroom; plant, harvest, and cook food in the garden; and involve the school community in caring for the space. Corps members will:
- Work with classroom teachers and site administration to create an outdoor classroom teaching schedule, if one does not exist already.
- Teach science in the outdoor classroom in accordance with the Education Outside Lesson Pathway, a standards-based K-5 outdoor science curriculum framework.
- Maintain strong connections to school site wellness initiatives and coordinate planting, harvesting, cooking, and eating in the garden with students.
- Model best outdoor classroom teaching practices for classroom teachers.
- Work with parent and/or teacher groups to build and maintain an effective base of support for the program.
- Work with students and the community to maintain and improve the green schoolyard.
II. Engage All Students in Place-Based Education
In addition to providing outdoor education experiences in San Francisco's green schoolyards, Corps members will work with SFUSD Ecoliteracy to eliminate barriers to taking students outdoors. Corps members will:
- Work with the SFUSD Ecoliteracy Content Specialist to identify and communicate new opportunities for age-appropriate field trips to local natural areas, open spaces, parks, urban farms, wastewater treatment plants, and other city facilities.
- Work with district, nonprofit, or City government partners to identify and organize an ongoing stewardship project in a nearby natural area, when possible and appropriate.
- Investigate institutionalizing a residential outdoor experience for every 5th-grade student through local environmental education partners.
III. Support Sustainability Practices
Corps members will promote energy efficiency, water conservation, alternative transportation, and waste reduction through curriculum-based lessons in the outdoor classroom as well as through on-site community collaboration and stakeholder-based behavior change campaigns. Corps members will:
- Teach energy, water, and waste-related curriculum in the outdoor classroom and make connections to sustainability efforts on campus.
- Cultivate and support site-based Green Teams composed of staff, parents, and students.
- Promote opportunities to reduce utility use via student-centered activities and curriculum.
- Encourage alternative modes of school commuting in coordination with school community and/or the Safe Routes to School program.
- Increase waste diversion by reinvigorating and/or expanding the Food to Flowers composting program.
- Work with the SFUSD Director of Sustainability to review overall operations at school sites and identify opportunities for improvement.
IV. Promote Outdoor Ecoliteracy among School Staff
Corps members will promote ongoing professional development (PD) in ecoliteracy for classroom teachers. Corps members will:
- Introduce classroom teachers to the benefits of experiential and place-based learning through the promotion of and recruitment to ecoliteracy-related PD.
- Coordinate occasional PD workshops at school sites.
- Provide follow-up support to classroom teachers who attended ecoliteracy-related PD by creating curriculum connections to the outdoor classroom and off-site field trips.
- Ensure ecoliteracy-related news, events, and updates are disseminated to school staff and community members in a consistent and timely manner.
Track and Showcase All Green Schoolyard and School Greening Activities
Corps members will serve as ambassadors for the program by documenting and sharing their work with Education Outside, school communities, and the public. Corps members will:
- Learn to communicate effectively about Education Outside and work to spread awareness of the program and its components.
- Effectively document and disseminate teaching and learning in the outdoor classroom through photos, video, blogging, newsletters, and print materials.
- Input lessons taught into an online curriculum tracker called the Root Cellar.
- Create and manage program displays at school using bulletin boards, newsletters, and other communication vehicles.
- Provide feedback to Education Outside staff in order to continually refine the Corps member program.
- Participate in and collaborate with the larger SFUSD school garden and green schoolyard community.
The successful candidate will possess:
- College degree in Environmental Science or related field
- Experience teaching and working with groups of students, especially ages 5-12
- Background working with children and adults from diverse backgrounds
- Previous experience effecting behavior change within communities
- Previous work in public schools or educational setting
- Previous experience with environmental education and gardening/farming
- Comfort speaking in front of crowds and working with groups
- Competency in a second language (especially Chinese or Spanish)
- Ability to thrive in an environment that is characterized by significant growth, diversity, and constant change
- Ability to handle ambiguity, juggle many tasks at once, and quickly shift from one situation or task to another
- Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
- Excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills
- Strong computer skills, proficiency in MS Word and Excel
- Passionate commitment to Education Outside's mission and vision
- Must pass district-mandated background tests and fingerprinting
- Must own laptop computer with Wi-Fi access for use at school site
- Ability and willingness to commit to the two-year program
- Ability to lift 30 lbs or more
Corps members receive a 10-month salary of $25,000, plus medical, dental, and vision insurance for each year of service, as well as paid professional development throughout their experience.
Please visit our website for more information on the Corps for Education Outside and to fill out the application form by 4/1/13. You will be prompted to upload a resume in PDF format as part of the application form.
Education Outside is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, handicap, or sexual orientation. People of color are encouraged to apply.