Beyond the Classroom

Community Outreach Programs

Community outreach is an integral part of The Willow School experience and is done in many ways. We go on field trips all around Florida, do regular community service, and we are committed to environmental education.

Children go on regular field trips as part of our private school program and as an enhancement to our classroom curriculum. Children visit both local and state organizations, businesses and agencies. They also attend cultural events such as plays and concerts. Additionally, we visit businesses around Indian River county but also explore places all over Florida and other states.

Along with regular field trips, we choose to emphasize community service as well. As a school we visit nursing homes locally where the children sing to the residents and make cards to give them for special holidays such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day.

We have volunteered to do beach clean-ups in our county and recently adopted a spoil island in the Indian River Lagoon! In the past we have raked leaves for elderly home owners, raised money for Pennies for Peace, donated a decorated Christmas tree to the Riverside Children’s Theater’s annual Festival of Trees and support other local organizations.

Lastly, as part of this private school’s mission, we are committed to environmental education. Each year our students attend two field trips- one in the fall and one in the spring- each about 3 days long where the children are out in nature. They kayak and explore our beautiful Florida environment and learn more about our unique Eco-system.

Environmental Education

Willow is committed to teaching, learning and living environmental stewardship. We do this first and foremost by taking the children on many outdoor field trips. These trips help to foster a love of nature and an appreciation for our unique Eco-system. And, as we all know, we are motivated to save what we love.

As part of our school program, Willow regularly organizes outdoor education field trips for the students. These trips can include day visits to various ecosystems in our local community as well as 2 and 3 day overnight camping trips around the state.

Our children participate in:

  • Day hikes
  • Kayak trips
  • Exploration of our beaches, rivers and woodlands
  • Three day camping trips

These trips allow students to explore their natural surroundings, learn about ecological concepts and foster an appreciation of the natural world. Some of the most pressing issues of this century will involve our care for the earth, as we learn to balance environmental protection and economic health with human needs.

Students in Nature Achieve Higher Test Scores

The American Institutes for Research® conducted a study, which was submitted to the California Department of Education, examining the impact of an outdoor education program. They found that there was:

  • A 27% increase in measured mastery of science concepts
  • Enhanced cooperation
  • An improvement in conflict resolution skills
  • Improvement in self-esteem
  • Increases in positive environmental behavior
  • An increase in problem-solving
  • Improved motivation to learn
  • Better classroom behavior.

To read more about this and other research about the benefits of outdoor education, click here:childrenandnature.org

Willow’s Awesome Field Trips

A home-school program alternative

Field trips are an integral part of Willow’s curriculum. As part of our experiential learning program, we believe that children learn best by doing and by being immersed in experiences.

Field trips allow children ‘real life’ exposure to many of the concepts and ideas they are learning in the classroom. These field trips are an alternative to being exclusively in the classroom. This helps cement ideas learned in class and re-enforces the learning of them.

Each month students visit businesses, organizations and events both locally and across the state. Some of the places we have visited on our field trips include:

  • St. Augustine
  • Disney Epcot Center, Orlando
  • Environmental Learning Center, Vero Beach
  • Florida Keys
  • Florida Oceanographic Center, Hutchison Island
  • Fort Desoto State Park, St. Petersburg
  • State Capitol Tallahassee, FL
  • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Center, Ft. Pierce
  • Heritage Center, Vero Beach
  • Indian River County Courthouse, Vero Beach
  • County Beaches, Parks and Pools
  • Lyric Theater, Stuart
  • McKee Garden, Vero Beach
  • Medieval Times, Kissimee
  • Mel Fisher Museum, Sebastian
  • McLarty Museum, Sebastian
  • NASA Space Center, Merritt Island
  • Orlando Science Museum, Orlando
  • Oslo Road Conservation Area, Vero Beach
  • Florida Everglades
  • Riverside Children’s Theater, Vero Beach
  • Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
  • Monticello, Virginia
  • Wekiwa Springs
  • Washington D.C.

Our emphasis on field trips is something our school curriculum shares with many home-school families, making us an alternative school program for them. Many home-school families have the freedom to take their children on trips, and use them as a way to teach. Often home-school families find Willow to be a great alternative school program for them.

Willow Students Active in Service Learning

At Willow we recognize the diverse county in which we live and acknowledge our place in the world community.To learn more about this and be involved, our students take an active part in investigating and contributing to solutions that address community issues.

In addition to academic skills at this independent elementary and middle school, we build a strong sense of social and community responsibility and incorporate service into many student projects.

Willow students:

  • visit nursing homes
  • participate in beach clean-ups
  • assist Habitat for Humanity
  • educate others about environmental issues
  • help individuals and groups in need

For the past few years the children have helped to raise money to donate toward Leukemia research. Willow has partnered with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help find a cure for this cancer. Learn more about this organization at this link: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

At this independent elementary and middle school, we recognize the importance of developing a sense of caring about oneself but also about the community in which we live. By having the children visit local nursing homes, participate in beach clean-ups and remove trash and invasive species, they feel proud about giving back. Our students also can see first hand the results of their efforts.