Recently, Timmons Elementary School got a new classroom. But it’s not what people may expect, with new brick walls and desks for students to look at a dry erase board of notes. Instead, it is an outdoor classroom, behind Timmons next to the trail. Studies have shown that learning outside is beneficial to children, with lots of studies being done to promote outdoor learning environments. “Residential outdoor education programs, which utilize out-of-doors settings to teach students, have evolved around the tenant that these programs provide unique benefits to the attendees…Positive effects that have been credited to these programs include: increased self-esteem; improved social skills; positive changes in attitudes towards the environment, school, and peers; cognitive gains; the development of new life skills; and increased environmentally appropriate behaviors.“ (Martin, Heather Lee. “The Development and Evaluation of: A Guidebook for Evaluating Residential Outdoor Education Programs (R.O.P.E.) A Thesis“).
The classroom was a joint project between Timmons Elementary School teachers, vice principal Mrs. Hasenohrl, and Girl Scout Gold award recipient Jordan Spehar. The school put down the amphitheater style stage and the bench style seating, and Jordan installed a Little Free Library and also an outdoor chalkboard for the teachers to use. Little Free Libraries are meant to promote community reading and sharing, with people putting in old books and taking new ones to enjoy. So far, the Library seems to be in abundant use, both by students and staff and the weekend hikers who stop by to admire the box. The box was painted by artist Elizabeth Burr, who is a classmate of Jordan’s. Both are currently seniors, looking at colleges and careers. Elizabeth donated her time to help make the box beautiful for everyone, as well as the matching chalkboard which was painted and adds to the whole aesthetic of the area. Everything came together nicely and Jordan couldn’t be happier about the project.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Award, with a few noticeable differences. The Eagle Award requires no work from the Scout, and the age requirement is that they have to be under 18. For the Girl Scout Gold Award, Scouts are required to have at least 80 hours invested into the project, and also are required to not only delegate work but to also participate in the work. Jordan and her family believe the project will be in use for years to come, keeping community strong and influencing children to be better learners in the future.
Contributed By Jordan Spehar