Northshore Magazine

Northshore September 2015

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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50 | SEPTEMBER 2015 nshoremag.com Above, Patrick Belmonte engages with students. Left, students from North Beverly Elementary School experience nature. pack their lunches without pack- aged items or plastic bags. Or, when shopping for groceries with their parents, choosing items that are either free of packaging or come wrapped in recyclable materials. The Belmontes are, thereby, also empowering kids to become educa- tors; by sharing what they have learned, they are able to work with their families to make informed choices. "They get to make deci- sions about things in the home," notes Lauren. "We give students a really inte- grated experience where they are using their hands and experiential learning to gain knowledge about the environment but in a way that they can use the skills schools are so focused on—math and literacy skills," explains Patrick. He and Lauren look for ways to reinforce those objectives. They believe their programs make kids stronger in those subjects by engaging them in real-world situations that require problem-solving and reading com- prehension skills. The Belmontes have also as- sembled "lesson extensions," which are homework assignments of a sort. For example, they might ask students to conduct energy audits of their homes. "It's really a math worksheet," notes Patrick, "but it's an [activity] where they are engaging their parents and making changes in the house." Change is Simple's fundamental curriculum is always at the ready, but if after talking with educators they discover something addi- tional that can be woven in, they will do so. "We make adjustments along the way to make sure it fits really well with what they are do- ing in the classroom at that time," says Patrick. Growing geographically is their goal—to introduce as many kids as possible to these ideas so they have respect for the natural world and make good choices, starting when they are young. "It would be fantastic if every student, nation- ally, could have this program," says Lauren. "Every student needs to understand the importance of the health of our environment." Change is Simple 8 Enon St. Beverly 978-344-2155 changeissimple.org CO N TAC T FAC ES

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