by Krista Adams Wallace
When you think of the perfect classroom, what comes to mind? Four walls, desks lined up in rows, and a SmartBoard? Not me!
The perfect classroom is a space that sparks curiosity, creativity, and conversation.
Since 2004, we’ve been using Spirit Mountain as a classroom:
- Tourists visit our farm every week. We partnered with American college students from Olaf College and German graduates with Weltwarts to create a walking tour of the farm. The tour highlights coffee varieties, the coffee canopy, migratory and endemic birds, as well as key members of the Spirit Mountain team.
- Spirit Mountain has been integrated with the Doulos Discovery School since 2003. The farm once hosted a Deeper Learning Slice to give new teachers a taste of Learning Expeditions, the method that Doulos uses to teach. Teachers researched the history of coffee production in the Dominican Republic, then spent an afternoon picking coffee side by side with the farm’s experts and observing how coffee is processed for export. We discussed the impact coffee has on the environment and the local economy. Teachers culminated their study by making informational posters of the coffee process to present to one of our roasting partners, Dominican Joe, in Austin, TX. Those posters hung in their coffee shop for years.
- But by far, we enjoy hosting students the most. During the month of October, students from the Doulos Discovery School will spend several days at the campsite for an immersion in environmental education. For many, this is their first time to sleep outside.
- Writing, art, and science lessons are all interwoven during instructional times.
- Instructional time is balanced with ample free time to give students the opportunity to explore, deepen friendships, and wonder.
- Field games and initiatives bring students together in playful problem-solving.
- Evening songs and teaching around the campfire deepen school culture.
- All students help with campsite chores: cooking, dish washing, sweeping, and picking up trash.
We’d love for you to enjoy Spirit Mountain as a classroom! Bring your family, your class, or your school for an outing of experiential learning and discovery.
Krista Adams Wallace is the co-founder of the Doulos Discovery School, serving as the Headmaster from 2002-2013. She consults with faith-based schools and is on the organizing committee for the annual Christian Deeper Learning Conference