Meet Our New Environmental Science Specialist – Mrs. Hasenbank!

New Branches Charter Academy is excited to introduce Mrs. Kate Hasenbank, our new Environmental Science Specialist! She is passionate about the environment and loves teaching others about the world around them. Born and raised in Montana, Mrs. Hasenbank loves being outside. She and her husband and their children have lived in Michigan for almost five years now. Together, they love exploring nature and taking advantage of all that Michigan has to offer.

What is your goal for NBCA students?

“My goal is to work with the classroom teachers to find meaningful ways to engage the students. I find students are more willing to care about something if it relates to their lives in some way. I’m hoping to show students connections between their interests and the world around us, our environment, and science in general,” explained Mrs. Hasenbank. “We will be taking students outside as much as possible to experiment with science concepts, explore nature on the 12 acres surrounding New Branches, build and create to enhance learning, grow plants in a new garden in the spring, get some fresh air, and get our bodies moving while having fun!”

Why do you think it’s important for children to learn by using the environment? 

“Being outdoors improves children’s development and ability to learn. My class is aimed at providing this crucial aspect to help the students thrive in their learning environment. My goals include building students’ creativity and problem-solving skills. By getting children out exploring nature and their local environment, we can help them understand and value nature.”

When did you discover the benefits of learning outdoors for yourself?

“I attended undergrad at Northland College, an environmental college in Northern Wisconsin. In one course, we would spend every other week traipsing through woods, prairies, and bogs to learn about various habitat types and learn to recognize the different trees and plants native to Wisconsin. We were able to connect what we were learning in the classroom during the lecture to where it exists in the real world. This made for more meaningful, lasting impressions than pure lecture courses. I later attended graduate school at the University of Montana. The most valuable parts of my post-secondary education always involved time spent outdoors and actually being able to put science concepts into action in real world environments. I’m hoping to model the same kind of active learning for my students; I find that students learn best and are more engaged when they are actively involved in the process of discovery and exploring our world with actual hands-on learning. These types of educational experiences have the power of making positive lasting impressions with the students.”

Why are you excited about teaching K-8 students/at New Branches? 

“I’ve been teaching college students for the past 5 years, so I’m excited to be working with younger students because of their amazing curiosity and enthusiasm for exploring the world around us. I love seeing my own children’s faces light up when they find a new critter to pick up and observe. Their wide-eyed sense of wonder over these discoveries energizes me, and I look forward to having the same amazing experiences with the students at New Branches Charter Academy!”