MANCHESTER - Burr and Burton Academy's Mathematics teacher Bonnie Niles and Ceramics teacher Lauren Silver traveled to Costa Rica this past summer to lay the groundwork for Burr and Burton students to travel there next spring for a service learning opportunity. The collaboration is intended to blend a service learning experience with the excitement of travel outside the U.S.

In Costa Rica, Niles and Silver were able to explore the extraordinary landscape, as well as view the vast array of wildlife living within that landscape. The real goal however was to establish connections, make arrangements and develop a partnership in Costa Rica that will become the basis for an educational service trip for BBA students next April.

Silver's contact in Costa Rica is well-versed on the natural resources of the country and as a result of this local knowledge, has made arrangements with a local tour company to set up the travel portion of the trip.

The BBA Service Learning trip is seen as a blend of travel, education, service learning and cultural immersion for both the students and teachers who participate. Additionally, the focus of Service Learning in overseas destinations is to have students gain skills and enhanced perspective for underserved populations developing compassion and caring and putting the Burr and Burton mission into action.

The faculty trip was funded by the David Bigelow Fund for Excellence which is an endowed fund created to provide Burr and Burton teachers with the financial resources necessary to further their professional development in a very profound way. The object of the grant is to allow faculty to get outside their routine and engage in activities that will re-energize themselves as passionate learners and committed professionals. Each year a grant is given to a faculty member (or members) whose proposed program or project best fulfills the committee's goal of supporting the improvement of the school's educational mission by enhancing the professional abilities of its teachers.

The collaboration between Silver and Niles reflects a desire among Burr and Burton teachers to extend the interdisciplinary connections of mathematics, science and the arts in the classroom.