As the sun peaks out behind rain clouds and the weather begins to warm up, students of all ages get the itch to go outside. Hitting the sunshine can be more than just running around wild, it is a great way to extend the classroom outdoors, expanding a student’s natural desire to learn.
The idea behind an outdoor classroom is simple – children benefit from spending time outdoors. Learning occurs outside in a form that doesn’t quite happen indoors as it beckons students to explore, learn and try new things.
At John T. Hartman Elementary School, the concept of an outdoor classroom is not new. The first outdoor classroom was built at the school in the 70s; left on its own, it quickly fell in disrepair and Hartman students lost the precious opportunity to take lessons outside. That was until volunteers from Hartman’s community partner Country Club Christian Church (CCCC) took notice.
Over the past seven years, CCCC has partnered with Hartman to offer different forms of support to students and staff such as tutoring, volunteers for events, teacher luncheons and regular grounds maintenance. During a spring planning session, the group decided renovating the outdoor classroom would be an ideal way to affect positive change in the school.
CCCC joined with Church of the Resurrection’s (COR) experienced construction crew of carpenters to plan out the project. COR provided the tools and labor along with cost of cement. A Sunday school class at CCCC generously provided a donation of funds for the lumber. Together, volunteers worked to clear the old materials, remove concrete and shrubbery, landscape the area and build the new outdoor classroom.
The volunteers who helped bring together a new era for Hartman’s outdoor classroom gathered together Thursday, May 25 to dedicate the new learning space. Students, teachers, administrators, volunteers and community partners were on hand to celebrate the opening of the classroom.
In addition to cutting the ribbon opening the space, the volunteers surprised long-time Hartman principal Dr. Jessie Kirksey with a plaque commemorating her 50 years of service to the students of Kansas City, Missouri.
“What a surprise and honor,” Kirksey said. “We were very excited about Country Club Christian Church restoring the classroom, but to be surprised with a plaque celebrating my time as an educator is very special. I am truly honored.”
Thank you to the following people who helped with this project:
United Church of the Resurrection Crew: Alan South, John Briggs, Jay Burrell, John Potter, Steve Rohleder, Jim Kotas
Hartman School Staff and KCPS Administration: Dr. Kirksey, LeAnn Kruse, Herman Norton, Doug Cron, Alvin Jones
Turn-Key Residential General Contracting: Jeff Algie
Country Club Christian Church Volunteers: Brian Ritter, LeAnn Ritter, Jerry Kindig, Alan Garner, Susan Garner, Sharon Hildebrand, Cathy Davenport, Mary Lynn O’Connor, Chuck Pickrel, Mary Lynn Clark, Mary Linda McDonnell, Sophie Nearmyer, Nancy Ralston, Marjorie Jump
Koinonia Sunday School Class
Country Club Christian Church Metro Missions Ministry: Ed Pasley