Education

Nature school granted Federal disaster relief

Staff Report

Marshall, NC – Woodson Branch Nature School, a 501 (c)3 independent school serving PreK- 8th grade students, has been awarded the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Programs. Designed to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis, these federal assistance programs will allow WBNS to maintain full staffing during the mandated school closure and to reopen without exception for the students and families when the state and county allows.

In response to Governor Cooper’s school closures and stay at home mandate due to COVID-19, WBNS instituted a distance learning curriculum for students on April 6th. Collectively designed by the teachers and delivered through Google Classroom, the online education program includes every subject offered at WBNS: ELA, Math, Science, Art, Outdoor Education, Agriculture and PE. Additionally offered are morning centering prompts and material designed to be delivered outside. Almost every lesson includes a hands-on, physically engaging component to solidify new concepts, the same as would be delivered to the students on the 30-acre campus.

“We feel fortunate every day for the work we are called to do with our students and families, and even more so now with receiving these funds to allow us to reopen and function at full capacity when the students return,” said School Director Lenore Luster.

WBNS plans to use the loan proceeds to cover payroll costs. The PPP Loan is designed to provide incentives for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll by offering loan forgiveness if the loan is used primarily for payroll costs and all employees are kept on the payroll. “This funding should be 100% forgivable,” Luster added, “which will be essential to moving forward as a school, given the financial hardships so many of our families are experiencing.”

Luster expressed confidence that the funds from these loans will keep the school in full operation, allowing the students to return to the same environment and familiar faces they left behind in March. “Our staff has done an amazing job at providing a comprehensive and rich online curriculum, but we’re eager to get back to our 30 acre campus. We miss the children and the opportunity to get our hands in the soil, and to continue on our nature inspired learning journey together.”

Woodson Branch Nature School provides a nature-based, farm, art, and forest school for preschool through 8th grade, teaching traditional and non-traditional subjects. Students have access to an abundant 30 acres in rural Madison County, complete with rolling hills, a well-established blueberry orchard, apple trees, pasture, six indoor classrooms, an 1800 sq. ft. 2-story tobacco barn, plus a pristine forest with trails, three creeks, and multiple waterfalls that serve as the property border to the National Forest. To learn more visit www.madisoncclc.org

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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