Trinity North dedicates outdoor classroom

April 25, 2013
First-graders sit outside in the new outdoor classroom at Trinity North Elementary Thursday after ribbon-cutting ceremonies earlier. Angel Reed, 7, left, daughter of Terrie and Merle Reed, and Austin Hancher, 7, right, son of Ed and Flo Hancher, work with their teacher, Susan Crawford. In the background, teacher Connie Schreibeis works with other children. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

There is probably not a student alive who, at some point, hasn’t looked out the classroom window on a nice spring day, sighed, and wished they could be outside.

Now, students at Trinity North Elementary School can suppress the sighs when the weather takes a turn for the better. On Thursday morning, the school cut the ribbon on its first outdoor classroom. Consisting of seven concrete benches in a half-oval formation, it will be available to all the teachers at the school and is adaptable to any needs within the curriculum.

Susan Crawford, a first-grade teacher at Trinity North, said the outdoor classroom is the first of its type in the district. She was inspired to pursue the project after seeing a similar classroom in the Upper St. Clair district when she was working there as a substitute teacher.

“It’s a fresh approach, a pleasant atmosphere and a change of scenery,” she said.

Crawford rounded up four other teachers from other grade levels and specialty areas, and they applied for and won a district grant through the Trinity Area Education Association, the teachers’ union.

It’s located on the north side of the school, which is off Jefferson Avenue in Canton Township. Aside from liberating students from bricks and mortar on sunny days, it will “enhance every child’s learning. Sometimes you just need a change of location,” Crawford explained. Studies have shown that similar outdoor classrooms have “proven to be quite useful and effective for the students,” she added.

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from George State University in Atlanta, Ga., and a master’s in popular culture studies from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University. He has covered the arts and entertainment for the O-R, and also worked as a municipal beat reporter. He now serves as editorial page editor.

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