If you stop to visit Samantha Eaton’s kindergarten class, her students might be found learning outside of Red Bank Elementary as often as inside. The Hamilton County Schools Teacher of the Year starts her young learners early in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education with her forest kindergarten program. The innovative learning experience for the Red Bank Elementary children has vaulted Ms.
Eaton to the next level in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program as she is as a regional-level finalist.
“We spend half of the day inside doing traditional kindergarten activities at an accelerated pace and the rest of the day is spent outdoors with natural experiential learning,” Ms. Eaton said. “Outside, the children are following their passion projects or what they are excited about learning.”
Ms. Eaton has taught at Red Bank Elementary for the past five years, and she has nine years of teaching experience. She considers herself a researcher and loves to search for answers to help her students learn. Six years ago, she asked her school leader the question that started a new adventure for Red Bank Elementary and her kindergarten children. She asked, “Have you ever heard of STEAM?” That simple question was a launching point for innovative learning.