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Outdoor classrooms proposed for CCMS Featured

The project proposal getting the most attention was Cleveland Central Middle School Vice Principal Ginger Worthington's suggestion of an outdoor classroom space at Cleveland Central Middle School. "We are the link between elementary and high school. This is where parents make the decision to keep their child in the Cleveland Public School System or decide to place their child in private school. We want to give students opportunities they can't get anywhere else," she said. Worthington explained that the classrooms could be constructed in the courtyard between the main hallways at the school that is nearly 1,000 square feet. "There is nothing that goes on in that space currently. We would divide the area into four separate classrooms with an open meeting space in the center. We aren't sure what type of ground cover we want yet. We've discussed stamped concrete because we want the space to be as low maintenance as possible," Worthington said. She explained that the proposed classrooms are about more than just making the school attractive and repurposing space that is currently unused. "One of our goals this year at Cleveland Central Middle School is to increase student engagement. Having a place like this will automatically do that. We want to have different seating arrangements in each of the four quadrants so they can be used for different purposes. "For example one section might have picnic tables so students can work in small groups while another might have a benches and an outdoor chalkboard for classes that have a guest speakers come to visit," she said. Because student engagement is main goal for the project, Worthington wants students to be a part of the design process. She also hopes the space will allow for, "integration of subjects. So for example if we did murals on the walls, the art department might have students create the art for the murals and the math department might have their students figure out how to draw them to scale," Worthington said. "Each class could work in a separate area, but they could collaborate in the central space at the middle of the courtyard. "This would not be an everyday classroom; on rainy days you wouldn't really be able to be out there, but one thing we would like to do is add shade cells to each of the areas. "We would attach four triangular shade cells to the walls. The middle circle would have an arbor and the points of each shade cell would attach to the four poles of the arbor. The arbor in the center would be covered with a square shade cell," explained Worthington. The board seemed excited by the proposal, smiling and nodding in agreement with various portions of the presentation. "This is a great idea and I would love to see us utilize space that we aren’t currently using," said Board Vice President Todd Fuller. "I would say you've about sold us on this," added Board President George L. Evans. Worthington concluded with potential direct benefits for students. "It improves their mood and their retention of material. It also provides an improved learning experience for tactile and experiential learners. Essentially it's an opportunity for us to bring learning to life for our students," she said.

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