More than 100 students from Woodmoor Elementary School in Bothell had a chance to learn about animals, insects and the wilderness during Outdoor Education Day, organized by the Northshore School District’s Parents Active in Cooperative Education program.
Parents and students between first and fifth grades gathered at St. Edwards State Park in Kenmore around 10 a.m. Sept. 22. Students passed through various stations where they had the opportunity to build bird houses, go on a nature walk, learn about various raptors who live in Washington state and learn about honey bees.
Outdoor Education Day is a tradition, said Mike DiGioia, a parent of a Woodmoor Elementary student and vice chair of the parent organization, known as PACE.
“We think that’s a nice change of pace from school,” DiGioia said.
PACE at Woodmoor began organizing this year’s Outdoor Education Day in April.
PACE is a choice program offered at the Northshore School District.
“PACE is committed to an enriched learning environment, emphasizing active participation of parents, innovation teaching techniques and creating a partnership of teachers, parents and students,” according to the Northshore School District website. “We are a community of children, teachers and parents active in cooperative education who strive to enrich and deepen learning, independence and leadership. We value respect, compassion and responsibility in building our community of lifelong learners.”
There are three PACE sites within the district, at Lockwood Elementary School, Wellington Elementary School and Woodmoor.
“I think it’s been great for my daughter,” DiGioia said. “She loves it.”
First grade teacher Caroline Chastain calls the PACE community a “school within a school.”
She said PACE gives parents an opportunity to work on something really important: education for all children.
The benefits of the program are numerous, Chastain said.
“We get a broader sense of the world around us when we bring in our families and share all of their diversity,” she said.
When families sign up for PACE they make a commitment to volunteer 80 hours of their time for PACE or Woodmoor-related events each year.
While there are some sacrifices parents make to be involved at this level — for example, many of the parents on site Sept. 22 had to take a day off from work — Chastain said PACE will help parents find a way to volunteer.
“It sends the message that school is important,” she said. “I really believe in parents being involved with their kid’s education.”
In the past, parents have taught various lessons, from public speaking, to art and science, in the classroom.
Families also must meet a $300 fundraising obligation per year.
“Families have several options for raising this money,” DiGioia said. “They can help participate in a fundraiser, like our auction coming up in February, they can raise a portion through corporate match if their employer offers it, and they can also contribute directly from their own personal funds.
For families interested in learning more, Northshore is hosting a PACE information night at Lockwood, Wellington and Woodmoor on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.
To find your PACE school, visit www.nsd.org/Page/6800.