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February 19, 2018

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Academic Coordinator Attends Learning and the Brain Conference

Pacific Quest’s Academic Coordinator Isabel Holmes was recently in San Francisco attending the Winter 2018 Learning and the Brain Conference.  This event brought together hundreds of researchers, educators, clinicians, and school leaders from across the globe to explore the latest neuroscience research on innovation and creativity in an interdisciplinary forum.

Isabel Holmes, Academic Coordinator

In sessions such as “Being Creative is a Choice”, “Visible Literacy in Learning”, and “The Middle Way: Finding the Balance Between Mindfulness and Mind Wandering for Creativity and Achievement”, Isabel was able to learn about new strategies to develop innovative and creative mindsets in staff and students and see evidence of the benefits of imagination, mindfulness, and mind wandering for memory, literacy, and achievement.

Of particular interest was researcher and professor Alison Gopnik’s opening keynote address, “When (and Why) Children are More Creative Than Adults”, which touched on a number of tenets from her recent book, The Gardener and the Carpenter–a framework for creative learning and exploration that translates particularly well to the gardens of Pacific Quest and has been much discussed amongst staff in recent months. Isabel was grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this exciting meeting of minds, and looks forward to sharing what she learned while continuing to learn alongside her PQ colleagues.

Isabel Holmes joined Pacific Quest in the fall of 2016 after graduating from Vanderbilt University with her M.Ed in Human Development Counseling. She worked as a Young Adult Program Guide for seven months before moving into the role of Academic Coordinator. Isabel dedicated her early career to helping a variety of populations get the most out of their educational journeys and brings a holistic understanding of behavioral health in academic environments to PQ.

As the Academic Coordinator, Isabel strives to creatively integrate the curriculum into our students’ daily process and envisions bringing the curriculum to life in the field through groups and experiential learning opportunities. She serves as an energetic liaison between internal departments and between PQ and external entities, and is invigorated by opportunities to drive staff development and training.

Learn more here about the Accredited Academic Program at Pacific Quest!

December 12, 2017

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Horticultural Therapy Training Day

By:  Isabel Holmes, Academic Coordinator

This month Pacific Quest will host two company wide Horticultural Therapy trainings.  Last week, over 40 staff members gathered at Reed’s Bay for the first training.  We were able to utilize the full campus and make the most of our garden experiences for staff and the land. The day included plenty of high-energy horticulture-themed games and scavenger hunts to help people across departments and programs get to know one another and get excited about the land.

Square foot gardening at Reeds Bay

Expert facilitators who have extensive experience in the field, led lessons on everything from how to care for a tree and how to treat a seed to the science of compost and a practical approach to the square-foot gardening technique. There were also quieter break-out sessions during which Travis Slagle, Horticultural Therapy Director, shared his expertise and experience with everyone and his team of clinicians worked closely with small groups on how to lead horticultural therapy activities and manage student needs.  Travis comments, “At PQ, we believe the greatest thing we can grow in a garden is a genuine curiosity about life, and a deeper awareness of ourselves and our relationship with the environment.  The beauty of this training is the opportunity for all direct care staff at PQ to come together to learn and practice experiential methods that integrate horticultural activity with the most current evidence based practices and research from the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT). By participating in this training, therapists and guides join a growing movement in nature assisted therapies that goes beyond the hiking and survival approach of traditional wilderness therapy.”

New this year were the Learning Passports, a compilation of worksheets containing thoughtful questions about each lesson so that participants could take notes, cement their new knowledge, and begin to plan ways to take that knowledge and experience forward to our students. After a delicious lunch, the group rotated through regulating activity stations, learning to make cordage, practicing their drumming skills while learning about the regulating capabilities of bilateral movement, and learning about the Hawaiian concept of “Ha” meaning breath.

The experience culminated in a speed-dating style activity where participants prepared a brief pitch to convince a hesitant student to join them and learn something new about the garden. The group rotated round-robin style through two lines, counting how many colleagues they could convince to join their lesson!

The day concluded in handing out completion certificates, which everyone greatly appreciated. There were many thank-yous and positive responses to the organization and thoughtful content of the day, as well as much gratitude for our energetic facilitators! We look forward to the second training this week!