Stories from the Field

Educators in all corners of the world are using the natural and cultural environment as a foundation for learning. View brief vignettes, or use the search engine at right to find more in-depth case studies, filtered by grade level, demographics, subject area, and more. Discover what others are doing in elementary or high schools, urban or rural settings, with a science or a more cultural focus. Exploring place-based learning vignettes and case studies can support and inspire you in your own place-based education and relative initiatives.

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Amanda Frank is a science teacher at Springfield High School in Vermont.

Beth Ann Drinker is an educator at Chester-Andover Elementary School in Vermont.

Dan Hamilton’s approach to PBE has taken many forms over the years, but land-based work and institutional partnerships are key pieces of fostering deep community connections and lasting feelings of ownership for students.

Janis Boulbol is the agricultural innovation teacher at Woodstock Union High School and Middle School. She’s been refocusing the program, pivoting it to integrate PBE, foster deeper connections, and promote stewardship of place. 

Jen Frederick, a middle school science educator at Plainfield Elementary School, incorporates PBE into her classroom because she believes it makes for better humans.

Wilmot is a fourth-grade teacher at the Weathersfield School in Ascutney, Vermont. Like all of us, she’s had to adjust to the “new normal” to protect health and safety. But a defining aspect of PBE is that it’s adaptable.

Over two decades of teaching, PBE has become the philosophy grounding all subject matter in Shawn Brodeur-Stevens’ classroom.

Vanessa Stern’s fourth-grade class at the Union Street School found the personal and practical benefits of land stewardship.

Supporting Pacific Island Communities Through Place-Based Education, REL Pacific by Darienne Dey
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented schools and education systems with challenges, but it also has presented educators and education leaders in Pacific island communities with additional opportunities to further personalize students' learning by engaging them and their families in learning that relates to their specific geographic location.

The Burlington City & Lake Semester (BCL) is an immersive semester program for Burlington High School students. Using the city as our classroom, students explore the people, places, problems and possibilities of their community, including themes of social justice and sustainability. - Signe Daly

Who’s Outside? How to Build An Anti-Racist Bookshelf is an interactive online workshop for educators offered in January 2021 by University of Vermont & Shelburne Farms. Educators Jeanie Phillips and Aimee Arandia Østensen courageously co-facilitated this workshop. From the facilitators "The workshop contains a number of prompts for reflection. We encourage you to listen to these materials as a solo practitioner, or with your teaching team."

‘A ‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi.
All knowledge is not learned in just one school.
— Hawaii O’lelo

What if my classroom was living?

What if my classroom got all of its energy from the sun, and its water from the rain? What if it was made of only healthy, nontoxic things? What if my classroom grew food for me to eat and taught me things? What if my classroom was living? This is what a SEED (Sustainable Education Every Day) classroom is and does.

An introduction to the individual case studies "Global Citizenship in the Classroom," "The Story Whisperer," and "Creating Learning Spaces that Educate and Inspire."

A teacher uses his classroom makerspace to design a project to help students understand sustainability as it relates to food and food systems.

Angela McGregor, an educator with Shelburne Farms' Sustainable Schools Project, was teaching Lawrence Barnes first graders a lesson about chickens when something unexpected—and extraordinary—happened: a little chicken leapt across a cultural divide.