Education Outside currently serves 47 public elementary and K-8 schools in San Francisco and Redwood City, and we're growing every year to meet demand. SFUSD schools, read on to find out how to join our program.
Not in San Francisco? Click here to find out how you can bring Education Outside to your school or district!
How It Works
Education Outside provides public elementary schools with dedicated, onsite instructors who teach a standards-based curriculum, during school hours, to children in all grade levels. We use school garden "classrooms" as our living laboraties, where science comes to life naturally.
Education Outside's instructors are dynamic, highly accomplished emerging leaders who have a background in science, environmental education, agriculture, and working with children. As AmeriCorps service members, our instructors commit to serving 1,700 hours per year and undergoing 300 hours of training. After a rigorous application and training process, we assign each service member instructor to a school site for a two-year term of service. From Monday through Thursday, Education Outside's instructors teach in their outdoor classroom and help coordinate sustainability efforts at their schools. Fridays are reserved for Education Outside trainings and school site administration work.
Education Outside is committed to serving your school for many years. When your instructor's service term is up, we will assign you a new instructor and work closely with you to manage the transition.
Participating schools contribute a site fee based on their percentage of free and reduced lunch students and their year in the program. Contact us for more details on the fee scale.
In order to join the Education Outside program, schools must meet the following requirements:
- SFUSD or Redwood City elementary school: Your school must be a K-5 or K-8 school in San Francisco Unified School District or Redwood City School District.
- Garden/outdoor classroom space: It is not necessary for your school to have completed its Prop. A bond/greening work, although it is helpful. However, you must have an outdoor classroom space in which classes can be held, raised beds or in-ground beds for growing vegetables and perennials, and space for a toolshed.
- Principal and school community who are committed to our program: Your principal must demonstrate commitment to the program by submitting the application, assigning a mentor teacher to your Education Outside instructor providing dedicated indoor desk space, incorporating the instructor as a full staff member, and agreeing to meet with him/her approximately once per month. Your school community must be willing to pitch in with work days, occasional fundraising for outdoor classroom supplies, and support for the Education Outside instructor. Your school must also have a deep interest in working on sustainability, and be willing to work with Education Outside and with the district’s director of sustainability, Nik Kaestner.
How to Apply
We are no longer accepting applications for SFUSD schools for the 2016-17 school year. Please contact us for more information and to indicate your interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Education Outside instructor (formerly known as a Corps member) a certified teacher?
Our instructors are not required to be certified teachers and therefore cannot teach alone. We promote a co-teaching model designed to advance teachers’ comfort with bringing learning outdoors and to activate outdoor classroom use by the entire school community. Teachers are expected to accompany Education Outside instructors in the outdoor classroom.
How will the Education Outside instructor be integrated into our staff community?
As providers of core content, not merely enrichment, our instructors can and should be included in staff meetings, email lists, social gatherings, and so on. They receive training in standard district initiatives (ELL, Restorative Practices, Common Core standards, etc.) as well as our specialized outdoor classroom teaching best practices.
Can the Education Outside instructor assist with other staffing needs at our school (e.g., during lunch recess or enrichment hours)?
Our program’s priority is to bring science content alive in the outdoor classroom, and our instructors need time every day for planning and meeting with classroom teachers, as well as breaks and lunchtime. We understand they are part of a team, however, and if instructors are used for other staffing needs, we ask that they are involved in sustainability or garden-based staffing (garden lunchtime, lunchroom composting, etc.).
Can the Education Outside instructor be part of our after-care program staff?
Our instructors should not be viewed as after-school staff. Off-site after-school commitments are a regular occurrence and a priority for our program. Additionally, our instructors often use after-school hours to meet with classroom teachers to plan lessons and sequencing. However, they should be allowed to create content in an à la carte fashion for after-school students in the garden or local natural area and to create after-school garden or field trip activities with the help of the after-school staff.
How is the Education Outside program at our school funded?
Schools that participate in Education Outside pay an annual site fee that varies depending on the school’s percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch and year of participation in the program. For more information, please contact us.
Who hires and places the Education Outside instructor?
Our instructors go through a rigorous application and interview process. We make every effort to place instructors at the most appropriate site.
Is this a grant?
No, this is not a grant. The Education Outside is a program that is hosted by your school.
Can I relax now and let Education Outside do everything?
Sorry, but no! Your Education Outside instructor is on site 32 hours a week and is certainly ready to dig in, but he/she requires your help and support. Our instructors are busy coordinating with teachers to bring lessons outside. They also have to plan lessons and set up the garden for learning. They need help with walk-and-bike-to-school days, work days, procuring supplies, getting to know the community, and gaining a sense of belonging. We’ll need your help in orienting them and making them feel welcome.