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Tue, Oct. 15

Special curriculum coming for habitat garden

Coyote Springs Elementary School students will become part of a new pilot program that connects Highlands Center of Natural History with the school's wildlife habitat garden.

School board members unanimously approved an agreement between the Humboldt Unified School District and Highlands Center of Natural History at the board meeting Jan. 18.

The center promises to work cooperatively with teachers to develop a curriculum based on state standards for science, and offer teacher workshops that integrate in-class learning with the school's garden. In addition, classes will visit the center's sites in Williamson Valley and Lynx Creek.

"There's nothing like this being done in the area or even the state," said Marcia Gatti, principal at Coyote Springs.

The center will provide a part-time staff member to coordinate the project. The position calls for someone with a bachelor's degree in education, environmental education, or a related field.

Expectations are that the coordinator will share his or her knowledge and expertise with the students and staff, Gatti said.

In addition to science curriculum, activities will also tie into writing, social studies and math standards.

"The staff member will spend half the time providing instruction in the Coyote Springs amphitheater," Gatti said.

The amphitheater is still a work in progress. Parents and community volunteers are gathering Saturday to build a wall out of recycled concrete sidewalks. In February, they will install benches the parents made.

Gatti said the second and fourth grades would continue their annual field trips to the Highland Center.

HUSD Superintendent Henry Schmitt said at the board meeting that all conditions of the agreement are contingent upon the availability of tax-credit money. The project is not dependent on the district for financial support. "We surpassed the amount needed for personnel costs," Gatti said. The school received $18,100 in tax-credit money designated for the schoolyard habitat.

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