AYER — Ayer Middle-High School technology teacher Barbara Dyer is an outdoor enthusiast to say the least.
Along with teaching and raising a family, Dyer has served as the chairwoman of the Worcester chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
“I love the outdoors, and I believe that real authentic learning happens for students when they are out in the natural world,” Dyer said.
To ensure that happens in Ayer, Dyer has worked very hard to cultivate some programs to introduce the students to the environment and to help the school “go green.”
For the entire year, Dyer has been working on putting together a trip for the incoming sixth-grade class to go to Nature’s Classroom in Wakefield, R.I. She has procured funding from the middle school PTO and the Ayer Education Foundation to help defray the costs of the trip.
“The trip is optional, but we have 60 out of 80 kids that are signed up to go,” Dyer said. “I am really excited about this trip and hope that it sparks interest in the outdoors and science for the kids.”
Dyer also has 13 students signed up and ready to go to Mountain Classroom, a program put on in the White Mountains by the Appalachian Mountain Club. In the beginning of June they will be traveling to Zealand Hut on the eastern edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in New Hampshire. Participants will witness wildlife, explore mountain ecology, and cool off by taking a swim in glacial waters.
The Ayer High School Mountain Classroom course has become a very popular offering.
“This course has been great,” Dyer said.
The class has been able to take advantage of partnering with a few community members who are avid environmentalists. Faith Salter from the Appalachian Mountain Club came to Dyer’s class to talk about global warming, Laurie Nehring of PACE (People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment) has gone on hikes with the class on Ayer’s Habitat Trail, and Takashi Tada from the Ayer Greenway Committee took time out of his work schedule to work with Ayer’s high-schoolers.
Dyer believes very strongly in the new phrase being used in the outdoorsy world: “No Child Left Inside.”
“I try to fit in as much as I can about the natural world around us in all of my classes — it is a real passion for me,” she said.
Her students all seem to appreciate her efforts.
Seventh-grader Kevin Cowdrey is looking forward to his upcoming Mountain Classroom trip.
“I really wanted to go on this trip because I go to Winnipesauke with my family and look at the mountains, but I have never gotten to explore them,” he said. “I think it is going to be fun, and I think that Ms. Dyer is an awesome teacher!”