Teacher a natural in outdoor education

New official will run centers where nature is primary classroom

February 21, 2000|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

At the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Millersville, Stephen Barry gazes at a framed photograph that hangs on a wall in the center's main building.

In the picture, a young man hunches over papers on a picnic table in the woods. He appears to be giving directions to a group of younger men gathered around him.

Barry said he hopes to include more at-risk students in outdoor education programs.

"I think I've always been an advocate for students," he said. "My goal has been to connect with them and empower them to learn.

"Part of my emphasis will be to work with the troubled students, the disenfranchised students," Barry said. "This is an environment where all students can learn."

To Barry, the residential component of outdoor education is particularly useful in teaching valuable life lessons. At Arlington Echo, visiting students might share quarters in the cedar cabins for two to four nights. They eat family-style meals in the rustic dining hall, taking turns as the "hopper," whose job it is to bring food to the table.

Barry said the living arrangements help students develop "an ethic about how we treat each other and how we treat our natural environment."

One of his favorite memories of the center was living in the camp cabins with students in the Youth Conservation Corps more than 20 years ago. The Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City students employed in the federally funded summer program built the center's amphitheater and the "Intiative and Confidence Course," an obstacle course promote teamwork and trust.

We lived together as a family for six weeks," Barryu said. "It was the first time I experienced what I have to learn from kids. Now the first thing I do is listen to them."

Barry lives in Davidsonville with his wife, Susan, a social studies teacher at Southern High School. His oldest daughter, Megan, 21, is a senior at Yale University, and his daughter Meredith, 17, plans to attend Virginia Tech.

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