BALDWIN, Wis. — Some would say Jennifer Heyer's third grade classroom at Edina's Highlands Elementary School is a sanctuary of learning.
She's created a space where kids are eager to participate, but Heyer knows the best lessons can happen outside the classroom. In her case, at 22 Farms Animal Sanctuary in Baldwin, Wisconsin.
"I created the beginning curriculum that we pushed out to all the classrooms," Heyer said. "What's a sanctuary? What's a nonprofit? how is that different than a zoo, a farm?"
Eight classrooms got involved. They learned the personal stories behind the animals at the sanctuary, and began educating others about them as well.
"We started writing newspaper articles, and then we would print them out and hand them out to people," Heyer said.
For some students, like Julia and Henry, being able to tell those stories was the biggest highlight.
"The articles were one of my favorite parts," said Julia.
At the end of the year, the students then traveled to the sanctuary, where they not only visited the animals, but also helped with some of the chores around the farm.
"It was a bit stinky because I had to clean up the chicken poop," said Henry. "But it was worth it for sure."
"Just seeing this growth in them as human beings, and having them realize that they're not too small," Heyer said. "That they can make an impact in the world."
Heyer's class also held a sneaker drive, and plan to donate the money earned to the sanctuary.
"They are impactful and they are special individuals that have solid, good hearts," said a teary-eyed Heyer of her students. "I just hope they continue this type of learning."
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