Explorer Academy helps build a ‘Better World’

May 8, 2019

HUNTINGTON — The small helping hands that happily found themselves wherever they were needed Tuesday will one day grow big enough to hold the world in them — and Explorer Academy aims to drive home that concept to its students.

The Huntington elementary school, along with other Expeditionary Learning schools across the country, participated in Better World Day, a day set aside to teach students to improve their surroundings in whatever way they can.

Pre-K, first-grade and second-grade students took to Ritter Park bright and early to distribute seed packets, hang bird feeders, plant a tree or two and sell lemonade to benefit the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.

Back at the school, the work continued as students spruced up the playground and dug into the raised beds by the main entrance.

“We want our students to leave here knowing the world is a large place and you have great opportunities anywhere, but wherever you land, they can do something for their community to make it better,” said Mary Beth Svingos, school instructional coach.

Explorer Academy is the first — and so far, only — public school in West Virginia completely built around the concept of Expeditionary Learning (EL). Students still follow regular public school requirements, but the lessons are comprised in a curriculum based on the idea of project-based learning through multidiscipline “expeditions” as opposed to classroom learning taught one subject at a time.

Better World Day is one of those expeditions, culminating weeks of learning about local plant and animal life, how ecosystems work and how humans can be responsible stewards of the Earth, Svingos said.

Due to rain on the original date of May 3, the observance of Better World Day was pushed to Tuesday. This meant, however, that activities for third-through fifth-graders, which included a cleanup of the school’s hiking trail, were canceled because they conf licted with state testing this week.