Sope School Discovery Corps
Students in McDonald County School District are participating in a new educational program called Sope School Discovery Corps. The word “Sope” is a combination of success and hope, which are the program’s cornerstone values. Currently, eighth grade students from the district’s junior high schools are eligible to enroll in the program. One week each month these students switch from their regular home school curriculum to focus their attention on outdoor based curriculum. Their instructor, Keith Jones, has worked to develop a central theme with supporting lessons, activities, and field trips for each of the weeks. For example, one week the students focused on how society benefits from conservation. For their Watershed Week, the class visited the Watershed Center.
During their field trip, the students covered a variety of issues related to water quality. They were able to perform a variety of water quality tests and learn about sources of water pollution and how to prevent pollution. One of the key focus points was the connection between healthy land and healthy water. The students gained some valuable insights that they will apply later in the year as they plan and install a rain garden to assist with helping clean water running off a playground.
This is an exciting program that has been made possible through a partnership between McDonald County School District, Bass Pro Shops, the Young Outdoorsman United Group, and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Mr. Jones hopes to expand the program next year to involve more students at both the seventh and eighth grade levels. The success of this program may in turn inspire other school districts to implement a similar strategy to incorporate outdoor education programs into their curriculum.
Jeff Birchler, Watershed Center Coordinator