Though there might have been a slight language barrier, nothing could obscure the enthusiasm and dedication of those in attendance at the Skiathos Summer School. Presentation after impassioned presentation left Learning about Forests Director Barry McGonigal in no doubt as to the commitment of this incredible group of teachers and educators assembled on the beautiful island in the Aegean. The setting for these presentations was the fittingly impressive “Bourtzi” Cultural Centre close to where the ‘old’ and ‘new’ ports meet. Surrounded by pine trees and with breath-taking views of the harbour and the sea, this former bastion and school was the perfect place to hear about the wonderful work the schools participating in the LEAF programme were undertaking. Examples of best practice abounded and all attendees were impressed by ingenious resources such as the LEAF backpack, LEAF activity guide and the Treasure Hunt game.
Activities in the field included the xperiential field study workshops in the Koukounaries wetland and teaching training workshops at the Skiathos High School. Cultural trips such as visiting the Monastery of the Annunciation and silvered sand of Koukounaries beach made for delightful outings and gave some context to the wonderful backdrop of the island.
Thirty teachers from all across Greece participated in the Summer School with the sole aim of furthering their ability to foster a greater connection between young people and their forested environment. Teachers with years of experience in environmental education were on hand to extol the virtues of this approach: everyone had something to offer and all participants came away with fresh knowledge and new ideas. Throughout the activities, the core elements of the Learning about Forests programme shone through and it was clear that the programme was being implemented to its fullest.
This was only the second year of such a Summer School and it was organised by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature in association with the Ministry of Education and Primary Education B Athens and members of the Hellenic Coordinating Committee of the LEAF Programme. Thanks to the kind efforts of the Cultural Association of Skiathos and the sponsorship of the AG Leventis Foundation, the entire undertaking was an unparalleled success. In addition, a special thanks must go to the following for their hard work, hospitality and patience: Mr. Nikos Petrou, President of HSPN,
MMrs. Alexia Nikiforaki, HSPN Deputy General Secretaryr. Theodoros Tzoumas, President of the Skiathos Cultural Society, Mrs. Katerina Mpazigou, representative from the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Mrs. Sofia Perdikari, Mrs. Sofia Kainourgiou, Mrs. Varvara Petridou, Mrs.Christina Theodora and Mrs. Stefania Dritsa.
Congratulations LEAF Greece on a fantastic Summer School and all the best for next year!