Layers of Learning

The layers of learning at Teton Science Schools are as complex and beautiful as the rock layers depicted on the geological maps of Jackson Hole. These layers of learning are the fabric of the TSS experience and a catalyst to the multiplier effect of the TSS mission. AmeriCorps members learning from instructors facilitating middle school research presentations while being observed by faculty. Classroom teachers learning place-based education techniques from graduate students who are appling the lessons they learned in their TSS graduate class. Our immersive and layered learning communities are the bedrock of our approach to education. One inspiring outcome of our layered approach to learning is when people reenter the TSS learning community in a new position. This summer we have three outstanding examples of this phenomenon: Greg Ley, Hayden Shea, and David McCoy.

Greg Ley: Graduate Student, Field Education Instructor, Wildlife Expeditions Guide, Field Education Faculty

“The first moment I knew I was inextricably linked to Jackson Hole and Teton Science Schools was about two weeks in to the Graduate Program. I remember someone on the faculty team saying, “We are going to put you into situations for which you are almost prepared . . . and you will be successful.” Given my background in adventure education, that phrase flipped a powerful switch in my brain – the one that craves novelty, challenge, and learning through experience. My intensive year in the Graduate Program pushed, stretched, and strained the limits of my abilities, and I certainly would not be the educator I am today without it. On the tough days or weeks I envisioned moving away to some other career path; on every other day, the valley became more and more a part of me. When I completed the Graduate Program I returned as a Field Instructor, then stayed on as a Wildlife Expeditions guide, and finally dove headfirst into the challenge of being on the Field Education faculty team. Every single step has put me in situations for which I was almost prepared, and each time I was successful – that is the magic that explains my path. Every day I look forward to more of it and to helping others find the same.”

Hayden Shea, Journeys School Student, Field Education Instructor

“So far as a field instructor at TSS it has not been uncommon for a participant to say to me at some point during our week together, “Wow, it must have been super cool to go to school here.” Statements like these fill me with pride and always put a smile on my face. Simply put, it was ‘super cool’ to be a Journeys School student, and it is even cooler to be back now. I began at Journeys school in 3rd grade and graduated with the class of 2011. I returned to Coyote Canyon this April as an instructor, and there is no doubt in my mind that my passion for teaching grew out of my experience at Journeys School. Guided by amazing teachers, I learned what it means to ask meaningful questions, explore and connect to place, and become a member of a community. It is a truly special experience to return to the TSS community and teach visiting students the same things that were instilled in me during my time at Journeys School.”

David McCoy, Field Education Participant with Chaminade College Preperatory School, AmeriCorps Member

“When I came to TSS in 6th grade I knew I would someday come back to this beautiful area. What I did not know is that I would get the opportunity to work as an AmeriCorps member at the same place that I had visited many years ago. The first time I visited TSS was with my whole 6th grade class from Chaminade College Preparatory School, which is located in my hometown of St. Louis, MO. The visit was just a week of exploring the area but it was enough to make me want to come back. Luckily, I still have a personal connection to the program at Chaminade. My father is now the leader of the trip, bringing around 60 young men to the TSS Jackson Campus every April. Through my father, I learned about the TSS AmeriCorps Internship program that I am currently a part of. Working with the community at TSS this summer has been life changing, and I hope to come back once I have finished school.”

Greg, Hayden, and David are three examples of the power of the layered approach to learning at TSS, the impact of repeat experiences at TSS, and the promise of the multiplier effect that spreads the TSS mission far beyond the borders of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

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