Opportunities for Teachers

Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center’s teacher professional development programs provide innovative hands-on outdoor and environmental learning opportunities for all educators. Through these professional development programs, educators engage in best practices to integrate the natural and cultural resources of Cuyahoga Valley National park into classroom learning.

We believe that nature provides countless opportunities for learning across content areas. Environmental Education Center strives to provide high quality, relevant workshops that are correlated to Ohio learning standards and offer continuing education units (CEU’s) when applicable.

Teacher Workshop: The Nature of Kids and Kids in Nature

June 24th-28th, 2019




Teacher Workshop: The Nature of Kids and Kids in Nature is a 4.5-day professional development workshop designed to help educators learn to recognize, understand and manage the multiple factors that influence student learning styles and to leverage the power of “learning in nature” to enhance student learning outcomes.

Through mini-lectures, video clips, case studies and authentic experiences in the National Park, participants will investigate the many factors that impact student performance and will gain practical ideas that can be implemented immediately in their classrooms (both inside and outside) to enhance instruction and assessment.  Participants will become more resourceful practitioners offering improved classroom climate and morale and realizing increased student engagement.

Participants will engage in discussions on:

Language Development

  • Leveraging nature to develop language skills and verbal concepts
  • How instruction can be differentiated to develop strong listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in students with different learning profiles
  • The seven levels of language and how assessment can be modified to encourage demonstrations of knowledge from students with literacy challenges as well as from those with advanced literacy competencies

Memory Development

  • Leveraging the power of nature-based learning to develop episodic, semantic and procedural memory
  • How spending time outdoors can impact auditory, visual and motor memory
  • Understanding short-term, working and long-term memory
  • Determining which instructional practices support and strengthen memory
  • How instruction can be adapted for students with weak memory abilities
  • The role memory plays in various types of assessments

Executive Functions

  • Leveraging the power of learning in a natural setting to strengthen attention, self-awareness, and self-regulation
  • How EF skills develop across the life span and how simple classroom practices can foster healthy growth in these functions
  • What can teachers/schools do when EF skills are lagging

Temperament and Mental Health

  • Understanding temperament, an oft-neglected concept in education
  • A review of the basic temperamental characteristics (present from birth) and implications for helping students with “difficult dispositions” adapt to the school environment
  • Easy accommodations to enhance “student- teacher-school” fit
  • How is a temperamental difference different from a mental health challenge
  • Current beliefs about the etiology and incidence of mental health challenges among children and adolescents
  • Characteristics of common disorders (with a focus on issues of mood regulation and anxiety)
  • What schools can do to make school a more comfortable and efficacious place for students struggling with mental health issues
  • Working with outside practitioners and simple practices that minimize stigma

Diversity, Equity and Social Justice Issues in Education

  • Leveraging the diversity that exists in nature as a vehicle for appreciating diversity in our classrooms,
  • The 10 markers of diversity,
  • How to recognize and celebrate cultural difference without creating a “new prejudice”
  • Definitions of cultural competence
  • Strategies for creating and maintaining inclusive, welcoming environments in schools
  • Talking about differences with students in ways that increase cultural competence, kindness and positive classroom morale
  • How to be inclusive in an outdoor educational environment

Outdoor Education & Learning Practices

  • Learn strategies to develop a student-centered, nature-centered approach to outdoor learning
  • Ways to structure learning in an outdoor environment
  • Build observation skills in nature
  • Develop student’s abilities to “think like scientists” and learn through discussions

Monday, June 24              The Nature of Kids (Introduction and Language Module)           12:30-3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 25              The Nature of Kids (Memory & Executive Functions Module)    9:00-11:30 and 12:30-3:00

Wednesday, June 26       The Nature of Kids (Temperament/MH and Diversity Module)  9:00-11:30 and 12:30-3:00

Thursday, June 27            Kids in Nature/Outdoor Learning:                                                        9:00-11:30 and 12:30 -3:00

Friday, June 28                  Kids in Nature/Outdoor Learning:                                                       9:00-11:30 and 12:30-3:00

For Whom

Primarily designed for teachers K-grade 8, but high school teachers are welcome.  This course is intended to re-ignite teacher enthusiasm and creativity by offering a new lens through which to regard student uniqueness.  Teachers will be presented with evidence-based strategies for increasing their impact in the classroom so that more students engage productively and comfortably in the learning process.

Please click on the Registration button for pricing.

A certificate for 3 CEU’s will be provided.

Optional Graduate Credit Available: Ashland University $180/Credit Hour. Course offers 2 Credit Hours. Registration for credit will take place during the workshop on Tuesday, June 25th.



Katherine Balisterri Howard, M.A., NCSP, LPC

Kathi has worked as a school psychologist for over 30 years in both public and private schools.  She has authored a week-long professional development course called “The Complete Educator” that focuses on the myriad factors that influence student learning and how teachers can improve instruction and student performance by recognizing and creatively managing learning differences.  She has taught at the graduate level at two universities and is a frequent presenter at local and national workshops for educators and for parents.  For the past twenty years she has served Old Trail School, an independent school located in the National Park, as Director of Support Services.

Heather Berenson

Heather has worked with the National Park Service (NPS) for over 20 years.  Most of her career with the NPS has been spent working at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center.   In her position as the Education Specialist at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Heather develops new curriculum-based education programs and works on curriculum development with a focus on outdoor nature-based education.  She also presents teacher professional development workshops and serves as a master educator providing training and coaching to staff.  Heather is active in a variety of citizen science projects including Frog Watch, Bird Studies Canada Marsh Monitoring Program, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Bat Roost Monitoring and a variety of local bird censuses.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Bowling Green State University.

Jesús F. Sánchez, M.Sc.

Born in Carolína, Puerto Rico Jesús Sánchez grew up in Lorain, Ohio west of Cleveland and known as the “International City.” He studied Biology at the University of Findlay earning a B.Sc and later obtaining a Master’s of Science from John Carroll University. From 2006 to 2013, he worked in various capacities through the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps program with high school age youth in Cleveland using urban gardening as way to develop 21st century skills and outdoor learning in youth. Jesús became Director of Programs at Esperanza Inc. in July of 2013, where he directed six outreach and educational support programs within the Cleveland Hispanic and Latino community partnering extensively with Cleveland Municipal School District k-12 schools. Passionate about experiential learning, Jesús is now Education Director for the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. He collaborates extensively with the National Park System developing curriculum, providing teacher professional development, and working towards an institutional culture that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion.