Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 27, 2012

School lets out, sort of

Grant aids in construction of Wurtland Middle outdoor classroom

Wurtland — Usually, it’s the kids who beg their teachers to convene class outdoors.

At Wurtland Middle school, the teachers have beat them to it.

The Greenup County Board of Education was poised Monday to approve construction of an outdoor classroom at the school.

The classroom is to be used both for full classes and smaller group sessions in a variety of subject areas, said physical education teacher Jay Krebs.

Krebs snagged a $3,800 grant from the Lowe’s Home Improvement Co. to build the classroom, which will be placed in a courtyard protected on three sides by wings of the school.

The classroom will be set up on a concrete pad and equipped with two white boards, picnic tables and two white tables, landscaped to divide the courtyard into learning stations.

There also will be a portable sound system and teacher supply cart.

Krebs expects the classroom to be an arena for hands-on learning. Science classes could conduct outdoor labs and English classes could do reading projects. The courtyard is sheltered from the noise of automobiles and other outdoor noise, he said.

Outdoor classes can stimulate and motivate children, Krebs believes. He recalled taking students at a previous teaching job to a football field to explain latitude and longitude, concepts the children had struggled with indoors. “When they saw each other standing on the grid, it was amazing how the kids picked it up,” he said.

“Getting kids outside and moving around can improve their attention span and give them a fun way to learn,” he said.

Work on the concrete pads may begin as early as next week; the goal is to have the facility ready to use when school starts in the fall.

While it was not included in the original grant proposal, there may be enough money to erect a roofed shelter for use in less than ideal weather.

The project probably would not have been possible without a grant, Krebs said. Two years of budget reductions have resulted in fewer teaching positions and less money for classroom supplies.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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