Our Leadership Chattanooga project goal was to work with faculty at Red Bank Elementary School to create an outdoor learning environment. The teachers had told us the children love to have classes outside, but the teachers needed usable space for outdoor learning to actually thrive. Red Bank Elementary sits on a great piece of property and has a natural courtyard space created by the horseshoe shape of the building. Working with the teachers, we designed an outdoor classroom in that courtyard.
Our first initiative was to partner with local businesses to raise additional funds and awareness. Benchmark Physical Therapy donated $2,000 toward the project. Keith Myers is the Regional Director for Benchmark Physical Therapy and feels that it is imperative to give back to the community. They have a local clinic in Red Bank, and they were passionate about providing a new and fun way of learning to our local children. The school also received a Step ONE Teaching Garden Grant of $2,000 to be used toward the construction, planting and maintenance of the elementary school garden. A butterfly garden was also added for an agrarian education of a different sort. Signal Tree and Dirt Services, a local company, donated 30 tree stumps for children to have seats. EPB donated free tables in the form of large wooden spools that they use when laying fiber-optic cable
A privacy fence was added by a local company, Impact1, to enclose the area and provide a visual block for children who would otherwise face a playground, but Signal Mountain is still visible. We raised existing garden beds and added a butterfly garden for agrarian/nature education. A permanent shade structure turned out to be financially unfeasible, but we were able to get free tables from EPB. The spools will pair nicely with patio umbrellas if shade is required on those hot days. We have mulched quite a bit throughout the classroom area for beautification. Once the teachers add a white board, there will be a multi-purpose outdoor classroom that is ready for use.
We are thankful for the passion and love that our community has given us to complete the project to give our children a fun and loving education platform.
Eliza DeLaughter, Leadership Chattanooga Class of 2016