A Story of School and Nature


  • Maysaa Bazna Queens College, CUNY




Outdoor education; alternative education; children’s healthy development


When I founded a small democratic school in New York City 12 years ago, I was not aware of the term outdoor education, let alone how to offer it in the middle of Manhattan! All I wanted was a place where children were trusted to direct their own learning in pursuit of their own happiness. We simply provided a loving, peaceful space for the children to be and intentionally left it for their brilliant minds and bright souls to chart our course. I share our story of how, and possibly why, the children turned their school into an outdoor school, with the hope that it inspires the creation of more such programs and that, in turn, they serve to challenge the prevalent disconnect between school and nature.

Author Biography

Maysaa Bazna, Queens College, CUNY

I am an avid advocate for equity and inclusion in education. My mission is to support learning programs where children have a voice in their education and to help cultivate children‘s intrinsic humanity and wisdom for a more just and harmonious world.

I direct the Office of Professional Practice and Community Partnerships at the School of Education of Queens College, CUNY, where equity, excellence, and ethics are the core values that guide the experiences of future teachers.

I run Friends of Pono, a not-for-profit organization that supports and advances learner-centered environmental education programs in NYC public schools.

I founded Pono, the only democratic outdoor urban learning center in New York City, where children are trusted to initiate and direct their own learning.

Prior to that, I was a Professor in teacher education programs at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the City University of New York. I have taught in the areas of learning disabilities, disability studies, and inclusive education.

My research interests include the development of special and inclusive education programs in the United States and abroad, as well as the intersections of spirituality, postcoloniality, and equity in education.


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Essays, Practices and Commentaries