Calling all tree-huggers: Wilson teachers are leading mindfulness nature walks

Charlotte Guy

This summer Wilson students have the opportunity to take a deeper look into both the wonders of Rock Creek and their consciousness. Int[tree]gued? 

As part of Wilson’s Summer Acceleration Academy, a two-week program in August of teacher-led courses, science teacher Dani Moore and social worker Phyllis Ford-Berger are spearheading a four-day course called Wellness in the Woods. 

Naturally, the half-day program will be dedicated to helping students find their inner zen through hikes in Rock Creek Park. The walks will also feature exercises to practice mindfulness and living in the present. 

“I was drawn to the concept because ever since the pandemic, I am one of those people who have totally fallen in love with Rock Creek Park and have spent countless hours just wandering and really paying attention to the park… and I found it to be really rewarding,” Moore explained. “And sort of along with that, like it really parallels stuff that I did last summer to kind of like cope and you know, exist.”

Moore’s nature walks galvanized her to get in touch with other spiritual aspects of her life and, “it all seemed to be coalescing in this way,” Moore said. 

So, during Principal Kimberly Martin’s meeting about the Summer Academy Moore decided to broach the idea of mindfulness nature walks as a potential course idea. She also asked to see if anyone would be interested in doing it with her and that’s when Ford-Berger expressed her interest in being involved.

“My ears immediately perked up…and I literally raised my hand and was like ‘pick me, pick me!’” Ford-Berger said. 

“I was so grateful that she was so excited to be part of it,” said Moore. “I feel like I had this kernel of an idea and now I have the professional expert to help me make it a reality for students.”

Moore and Ford-Berger had never interacted before the meeting, but their disciplines, as a science teacher and a social worker, are perfectly aligned for their course and they share a mutual love for nature. 

“The outdoors are really therapeutic. It’s just my space to think and reflect and I would love to teach students how to use the outdoors as a way to practice mindfulness,” Ford-Berger said.

The pair decided to limit the course to half days, primarily due to DC’s sweltering August heat. “I had decided to do half days because it’s gonna be hot, it’s gonna be August, I feel like half a day of walking around outside and probably like enough to ask from people.” 

Consisting of only four half days, this course is short and sweet and the perfect opportunity for Wilson students who are looking to explore both mindfulness and more of the beautiful forest in our backyard.