RootEd in NC

The Community is the Classroom


Teacher experience

Apply for 2023-2024

Impact stories

The Make Your Trail Challenge

Students, teachers, and community partners work together to make or improve a trail in their community.


The Year of the Trail

 The State of North Carolina has designated 2023 as the Year of the Trail –  a yearlong celebration of trails across the state. In coordination with the Year of the Trail, we have launched the Make Your Trail Challenge. 

How Does it Work?

Over the course of the 2023-2024 school year, students, teachers, and community partners will work together to make or improve a trail in their community. As they work on this challenge, students will deepen their understanding of subject areas such as science, social studies, English, math, and electives. Students will also develop the ability to solve problems in teams, and the power to shape their communities for the benefit of people and nature. The Make Your Trail Challenge builds on several trail projects that have come out of our RootEd work with teachers and student across the state. 

We are currently accepting applications for teachers who want to engage their students in the Make Your Trail Challenge during the 2023-2024 school year. Any North Carolina teacher or educator (Pre-K – College) can apply.

Over the course of the school year, a cohort of teachers will work with our RootEd coaches, their peers, their students, and community partners to create a trail project tailored to their community, their curriculum, and their students. Teachers accepted into the cohort will receive 4 days of professional development, a study visit, on-the-job coaching, project management support, partnership development support, and storytelling support in order to create their trail project. 



What is RootEd?

RootEd connects students and schools with communities to solve challenges. We approach the work of student development, teacher development, and community development as one challenge, not three. Through RootEd, students, schools, and communities become stronger and better prepared for whatever the future holds. RootEd is a project from Constructive Learning Design. 

Build a Trail; Build a Community

The idea for the Make Your Trail Challenge came from our work with current RootEd teachers and students, and from community partners like the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, NC Trail Days, NC Freedom Park, and the Elkin Valley Trails Association across the state. When we found out that 2023 was the Year of the Trail, we figured it was a perfect time to launch a trail-focused statewide challenge. See below for the different ways that students, teachers, and partners have tackled the challenge of creating and improving trails in their communities. 

Current and Past Trail Projects


Polk Middle School Students Improving Laughter Pond

“My kids are very concerned about justice and fairness…We can sit here and complain or we can actually do something to make things more equitable for our whole community. I think that taking ownership has made them feel a lot more confident and a lot more engaged.” – Jeanne Ferran, Polk County Middle School Teacher

ASU Academy at Elkin Building a Trail to the Public Library and the MST

Students and teachers from Appalachian State University’s Academy at Elkin lab school have partnered with the Elkin Valley Trails Association to create a trail that connects their school to the Elkin Public Library and the Mountains-to-Sea trail.

Wake Students Designing App for Black History Walking Tour

“A group of 10th-grade students at Wake Early College of Information and Biotechnologies will be creating an app highlighting Black history in downtown Raleigh, including the new park on the corner of North Wilmington Street and East Lane Street.” – Destinee Patterson, WRAL Reporter


Polk 5th Graders Redesign Campus Nature Trail; Create Interactive Trail Signs

Over the course of the 2022-2023 school year, Polk Central Elementary School fifth graders redesigned their campus nature trail by removing invasive species, and installing new interactive trail signs.

Powerful Learning for and with Teachers


RootEd provides teachers with everything they need to create bold community-connected learning experiences for their students, and nothing they don’t. As part of a cohort, RootEd teachers engage in a year-long blended learning experience that includes:


  • 1-on-1 and small group coaching 
  • Professional learning and study visits
  • Membership in an online community of practice
  • Networking and collaborative learning with peers, partners, and coaches
  • CEUs
  • Project management support
  • Partnership development support
  • Storytelling support

Teacher Calendar


Aug 25

Application Deadline 

Apply to be part of the 2023 – 2024 Make Your Trail Challenge Teacher Cohort.

Now – Aug

(Optional) Coaching Support and Project Planning

Ready to start planning your project RIGHT NOW? Shoot us an email and we’ll set up some co-planning time. 

At Your School or Virtual 

Sep 14 – 15

Launch Event 

Teachers meet for 2 days to kick-off the Make Your Trail Challenge, and start designing their student projects. 

WNC Location TBD 


Co-Creation and Coaching 

RootEd coaches will meet with teachers 1-on-1 and in small groups at least 3 times throughout the school year to help teachers design and deliver their projects. Supports and activities include: designing student activities, integrating with standards, co-teaching or modeling activities, and identifying potential partners.

At Your School & Virtual


Online Community of Practice

RootEd utilizes an online community of practice to connect teachers to one another, coaches, tools, partners, and other resources. 

Oct – Apr (1 Day)

Study Visit/Field Experience

Teachers will have several options to visit another school in WNC to see community-connected learning in action.

Location TBD

First Week of June 2024

NC Trail Days Culmination and Showcase

Teachers, students, and community partners meet for 1 day to share their work, celebrate, and learn from one another. 

Elkin, NC

Apply Now!

Please contact Jay Korreck at for more information.