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Bringing Baker Learning Outdoors

Each year, we use proceeds from our annual fundraising event, the Baker Benefit, to support a specific programming need that is critical to Baker’s continued success as a leader in independent, progressive education.

This year, the Benefit will help fund an upcoming campus renovation that will overhaul our outdoor spaces to extend Baker teaching and learning beyond the classroom walls, an expansion of plans begun last year to improve our athletic field.

Baker teachers already bring learning outside whenever possible, but having outdoor learning spaces on par with their fantastic classroom environments will open previously untapped opportunities for hands-on learning and exploration.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Junior Kindergarten teacher Lisa Kampwirth said. “As we see every day in our classrooms, the environment makes a big difference in what we learn and how we learn it.”

Plans for the project, still in progress, call for reimagined space for play and learning all over our four-acre campus. Whether it’s a kindergarten class exploring natural grasses and water ways, second-graders playing on a redesigned “great lawn” and athletic field, fifth-graders working in a new garden, or seventh-graders taking a writing exercise outside on a beautiful day, students and teachers will have more options for work and play, using natural elements such as wood and water, plants, trees, and rocks.

“Change of scenery and being outside is expansive,” drama teacher Lizanne Wilson said. “It fosters creativity and community. It frees the child.”

Guests at the Benefit can support this project most directly by raising their paddles to make a donation on the night of the event. We will offer a variety of levels for donation, and we ask guests to consider the level at which they are comfortable supporting Baker. Or if you are unable to attend, you can donate online.

“I’m excited about all the possibilities,” third-grade teacher Stefanie Gehrig said. “It’s Baker, so even as some of the learning will be teacher-driven, the kids are going to be imaginative and figure out a way to play with things that we didn’t even think of. The key is giving them the space.”