Debbie is keen to empower teachers to utilise the environment in and around schools to enhance learning. She works with them to look at what is important to them, what they identify as taonga species and places, to investigate what is there and to explore the connections between people and place. She sees value in tying learning to the Aotearoa NZ Histories curriculum and the Science curriculum – getting teachers comfortable with exploring the living things and natural places in their area, and empowering them to work with tamariki to understand what is out there, and hopefully to want to be kaitiaki (guardians – to care for it).
Examples of past projects
- Debbie worked with a group of students to explore an overgrown native garden, identifying native and non-native species. Students came up with a plan to create an outdoor classroom, and with the help of grant money and community involvement, the garden is now a great space for classes to use, with seating, signage, and a walkway.
- Another project involved students identifying problems on the school grounds and developing possible solutions. The children’s solution was to develop a bike track to give them more space to exercise and practice bike skills.
- Debbie has worked with ‘Young Ocean Explorers’ to develop guided inquiries for schools, to help tamariki learn about the importance of the ocean and to empower them to make a difference for the environment and waterways in their local area.