Celebrating Alabama’s largest outdoor classroom
November 14, 2023 · Projects
Community members, Arab City Schools’ leaders and state officials gathered in Arab, Alabama for the exciting unveiling of the largest outdoor classroom in the state. The classroom at Arab Primary School has been years in the making, and Goodwyn Mills Cawood (GMC) is proud to have helped make this dream a reality for teachers and students. Through outdoor classrooms, students can participate in hands-on learning and develop a sense of stewardship for the planet. In addition, research has shown that outdoor classrooms lead to higher test scores and improved student achievement.
The project was completed under the supervision of the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF), which leads the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program. AWF comes along school representatives to ensure the outdoor classroom is planned and developed correctly. This years-long process involves a number of benchmarks to guarantee that the classroom will serve the school best.
While AWF assisted on the project, this would not have been possible without the dedication of Arab Primary School science teacher April Williams. She spearheaded the project due to her passion for not only science, but more importantly, her concern for students and how they learn. She worked to get various grants and materials needed for the project, spending many weekends getting her hands dirty working in the outdoor classroom, planting trees and flower gardens. She noted that she is proud of the project and excited for her students to have a new learning space and experience all the classroom has to offer.
“This gives an opportunity to step away from the classroom and be outdoors during the school day and have fun while learning,” Arab Primary School Principal Amanda Rosewarne shared during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The stations in the outdoor classroom offer multi-disciplinary learning opportunities throughout. Arab Primary students can go to the outdoor classroom to analyze the weather, play music, compost food scraps, study the frog habitat and more.
Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth noted that the Arab City School district is among the top in the state and the outdoor classroom will “provide space for hands-on instruction to prepare for 21st century jobs.”
Over a dozen local citizens and organizations donated services and goods to make the project a success. The outdoor classroom boasts a greenhouse, weather station, music station, compost station, frog and toad habitat, sensory garden, pavilion and more. The school also has plans to add a chicken coop and walking trail soon. The innovative classroom will provide a unique and safe space for children to learn and engage with the outdoors for years to come.
GMC provided architecture and construction administration services for the project.