Plants as Co-Teachers and Co-Healers: Joining Place-Based Education and Wellness at the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science


  • Sarah Anderson
  • Kristin Krem


For the last 14 years, the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science has worked to integrate local places, histories, and ecosystems into the school curricula. In this essay, the two authors (the school fieldwork coordinator and the school counselor) explore how seeing plants and the natural world as active agents within the school has the potential to shift the culture toward healing, a necessary action within communities that are experiencing pandemic-related stress and other traumas. A specific cottonwood tree (addressed in this essay as “Cottonwood tree” with capitalized “C”) serves as a guide in this example and encourages us to further consider how plant-teacher-student relationships can redefine the roles of teachers, students, and counselors in school settings. Further information at






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