MADISON COUNTY COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS
NONPROFIT, NATURE-BASED SCHOOL
Madison County, NC
Woodson Branch Nature School
K-8 located in Marshall, NC
Just 10-minutes outside of Hot Springs, NC | Where the Appalachian Trail & the French Broad River meet!
We provide an optimal space for kids to learn in an effective, respectful way with the goal of turning out creative, resourceful, thoughtful, peaceful, intelligent LEADERS who confidently move their communities forward.
It All Began With Hot Springs Community Learning Center
What evolved into Madison County Community Learning Centers was humbly brought to life in 2008 as Hot Springs Community Learning Center, offering preschool, transitional kindergarten, after school, home school support, and summer camps.
Our small educational nonprofit soon became a state-licensed childcare facility, securing and maintaining a five-star rating in all of our offerings.
Through the seasons, we continued to thrive, growing from 10 students per year to an average of 90 students a year on their learning journeys with us today.
THE SEEDS OF WOODSON BRANCH NATURE SCHOOL
In 2016, we were given a generous gift from the Cato Foundation to expand our services. With their support, we purchased a 30-acre tract of land in Marshall, NC, conveniently located on US HWY 25, just outside of Hot Springs– our Woodson Branch Nature School.
Through this evolution, we began offering both elementary and middle grades nature school curriculum as well as after-school enrichment programs.
The Students and Families All Share Access to Abundant Acreage in Rural Madison County, Complete With
Established Blueberry Orchard
1800 Sq Ft., 2-Story Tobacco Barn
Pristine Forest with Trails
Multiple Waterfalls Bordering a National Forest.
Today our school is a thriving home for our community of students, family, and educators. Together we continue to co-create an exceptional learning space that we’re honored to welcome you and your family into.
HOW WE DEVELOPED
Our Mission, Vision, and Values
Every child deserves to be taught in a way that is respectful of the natural learner and in an environment that nurtures their learning journey in the most healthy and effective way.
Here at Woodson Branch, we follow the most current research-based practices for effectively teaching children, which include:
...students physically, both inside and in nature.
...an inclusive learning curriculum that teaches social-emotional skills in tandem with academics.
...a community of service and care for the environment and one another.
Our students about growing, eating, and sharing whole and healthy foods. In this, we nurture their creativity and imagination, encouraging their innovative ideas. We provide them opportunities in learning to become stewards of the Earth, following Leave No Trace principles.
A developmentally appropriate, physically engaging curriculum on-par with the logical building of academic concepts while relevant to living a fulfilled life. We get to know our students and differentiate our lessons for them as individuals while helping them grow together as a learning community.
Our parents are our partners. We work together in all things related to their child’s education. As we chart your child’s learning journey together, we maintain consistent communication throughout the days and months, asking questions and keeping you up-to-date as we go.
We care deeply about our colleagues, partners, members, and greater communities. We’re always learning from the experience and expertise of our elders and local professionals and know that together we are building a path for stronger, healthier spaces to live, work, and play.
WHY LEARN OUTSIDE?
There are proven physiological, social, and academic benefits to learning outside, but don’t just take our word for it.
Take a look at the studies below that share the incredible power of students being engaged in their learning journey outside:
THE PRAIRIE SCIENCE CLASS STUDY
Fifth-grade students attend school regularly at a local prairie wetland, where science, math, and writing are taught in an integrated, experiential way as students participate in onsite research. When compared to peers attending regular schools, students who attended school outside had significantly stronger reading and writing skills and reported feeling more excited about school.
TORONTO SCHOOL DISTRICT STUDY
Another study across 387 schools in Toronto found that students at schools with more tree cover performed better academically, especially those coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Imagine if they not only attended a school where there were trees, but students actually experienced extended exposure to them on a daily basis throughout their school day…. as they do here at WBNS!
- HERE AT WOODSON BRANCH -
Students take BOTH indoor and outdoor lessons, experiencing and participating in real chemistry and scientific inquiry in the gardens, the woods, and the creeks in their Outdoor Education and Agriculture classes and conducting research and learning vocabulary in the classroom.
This combination is proven to be highly effective for long-term retention of information and healthier, happier young learners.
PROJECT-BASED LEARNING IN ACTION
FARM - FOREST - ART
Woodson Branch Nature School cares deeply about our planet. We are committed to teaching our students using methodologies that help create a more sustainable future. Students are able to learn using project-based models that allow them to retain information more easily as they are physically engaged every step of the way.
“Farm” is our Agriculture Program and our “Forest” is where we host our Outdoor Education Program. "Art", in and of itself, is a mind opener and is embedded throughout the curriculum. We live in a world where the elements of design surround us and it is our work to create. As children have quick access to their imagination, we always aim to keep that internal path open.