AE/MS Eighth Grade Attends “Nature’s Classroom” for Full Immersion

Full week program in Massachusetts

By Kasey Schoch

The eighth grade class at AE/MS was given a unique opportunity to attend Nature’s Classroom in Massachusetts from September 19 through 23. Nature’s Classroom offers a fully immersive and highly engaging environmental education program (coupled with a strong team-building and character development component) that makes Nature’s Classroom a very meaningful and powerful experience for students. 

School Principal Dennis Dobe was aware of the opportunity and wanted students at AE/MS to get a chance to experience the program. “Many of our students and adults in and out of our school have experienced hardship over the past two years as a result of the COVID pandemic.  At AE/MS, we are getting back on our feet, and rebounding fantastically well.  

“Having said that, the prospect of providing a transformative experience (a positive one!) for our eighth graders (considered the ‘top of the food chain’ and the ‘crown jewels of our school system’) was extremely compelling.  We wanted to provide our students an opportunity to come together and develop leadership skills and confidence that will support their growth as individuals and as a group that will have the ability to have an enormously positive influence in our school over the coming school year.  

“Essentially, these kids have worked hard, been through a lot, and really deserve this opportunity to succeed at the highest levels this year as they prepare for high school next year,” said Dobe, who had experience with this program early in his career while working in Exeter.

Not only are students receiving an amazing life experience, they are getting to do so for free.  There is no cost to the trip as Principal Dobe was able to secure grant money to cover 100% of the costs.  He had to do so quickly over the summer, in addition to contacting parents and teachers over the summer break to make sure that everyone was on board with his plan.  

Principal Dobe added, “I absolutely have got to send shout-outs to our Grade 8 parents for their strong support of this opportunity for their children; to the kids for their positive energy and enthusiasm for their upcoming Nature’s Classroom experience; and to our middle school team of teachers who supported this initiative 100% from the first moment it was proposed.  As with everything else here, the magic happens at AE/MS because of our teachers and staff.”