The Experiential School of Tampa Bay, the 3, 4, and 5-year-old program at Shorecrest Preparatory School, has earned national recognition as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom. The certification comes from the Nature Explore program, a collaboration of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation. The Experiential School is one of only 13 certified spaces in the State of Florida. It is the only Outdoor Classroom with the certification in the Tampa Bay Area.
“The Experiential School’s commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to programs and educators throughout the country.” said Heather Fox, director of communications and outreach for the Nature Explore program. “These spaces inspire hands-on activity, creativity, play and plenty of time exploring the natural world.”
This certification confers upon The Experiential School a number of benefits, including membership in an ever-expanding network of more than 360 like-minded spaces nationwide. These Certified Nature Explore Classrooms foster highly effective, nature-based outdoor learning.
These unique outdoor classrooms—which are springing up like wildflowers across the country—offer interactive elements such as musical instruments made of natural materials, garden or pathway areas, and natural materials for building and creating art.
Research consistently shows that children who learn and grow in Nature Explore Classrooms exhibit enhanced concentration, develop creativity and problem solving techniques, manage stress in healthy ways and develop skills across the spectrum of academic and creative learning.
Junior Kindergarten teacher Wendy Jotch championed the creation of The Experiential School Outdoor Classroom. “Enjoying nature and learning outdoors have always been tenets of the philosophy of The Experiential School,” says Jotch. “Formalizing that philosophy through the creation of an official, research-based space was the next logical step for us. We are so proud to be a part of the Nature Explore network and learn and share with like-minded educators.”
Nature Explore Classrooms were developed by a team of master educators, landscape architects and researchers in response to the documented growing disconnect between children and nature. The classrooms help fill this void by integrating research-based outdoor learning opportunities into children’s daily lives. Classrooms that are designed according to standards and principles described in Dimensions Educational Research Foundation’s “Learning With Nature Ideas Book” are eligible to become Certified Nature Explore Classrooms.
About The Experiential School at Shorecrest:
Founded in 1923, Shorecrest Preparatory School is a PK(3) through 12th grade coed, nonsectarian independent school located in Tampa Bay. The Experiential School is the 3, 4, and 5-year-old program at Shorecrest. Each Experiential School teacher is a specialist in Early Childhood Education and a student of the latest research on how children best develop and learn. The expert faculty, research-based curriculum and hands-on approach to learning enable students in The Experiential School to build a strong foundation of learning and exceptional readiness for kindergarten.
Known for its student-centered approach to teaching and learning schoolwide, Shorecrest is continually on the leading edge of innovation in education. Shorecrest was the first school in Pinellas County to open a school Makerspace, a high and low-tech engineering and design studio for students of ages. In 2016 the school opened the Center for Medical Sciences applied-science track for high school students, won a grant from Steelcase Education for its interdisciplinary work in Middle School, and became an Apple Distinguished School. Learn more at www.shorecrest.org.
About Arbor Day Foundation:
Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation is available at www.arborday.org.
About Dimensions Educational Research Foundation:
The mission of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation is to transform children’s lives through meaningful daily connections with nature. Its Nature Explore team provides research-based outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops and natural products. More information about Dimensions is available at www.dimensionsfoundation.org.
Shorecrest Preparatory School
5101 1st St. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33703
Contact: Rachel Barrett, Director of Marketing & Communications
Office: (727) 522-2111 ext. 223 or (727) 456-7509
Cell: (912) 667-2016