Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)
Building an Outdoor Classroom
The Kingsley-Pierson Community School District created
a comfortable and innovative outdoor classroom to help
students get a more hands-on educational experience.
In late 2013, the Kingsley-Pierson
(Iowa) Community School District
invested money from an anonymous
donor to augment memorial money, given
in honor of a deceased student, to build an
outdoor classroom. Landscaping was installed
in 2014. The six-sided shelter house
is wheelchair accessible and along each
side of the shelter is a Pilot Rock (brand)
bench. The all-steel, 6-ft.-long benches
have perforated seats and backs.
Each backrest includes a custom message
to the student body: Respect, Citizenship,
Caring, Fairness, Trustworthiness
and Responsibility — the six pillars of the
Character Counts program. “A contractor
built the shelter house. And the benches
were purchased from R.J. Thomas Mfg. Co.
We also enlisted our students to help. The
horticulture class and our FFA program
were instrumental with the landscaping
around the classroom,” says Scott Bailey,
superintendent and high school principal.
“Elementary classes have used the classroom
on different occasions. Some classes
take students out for whole group reading
on pioneer life and farming. High school
classes use it, too. The students like to get
outside on nice days,” he says.
There have also been presentations by
groups from outside the school system.
“There have been lectures to different
classes on gardening and geology,”
says Bailey, “and recently the Siouxland
Humane Society did a presentation on
animal care and safety. The new facility
has proven popular with the students and
the community.” To equip the classroom
with benches the school contacted R.J.
Thomas Mfg. Co., Cherokee, Iowa. The seat
and back components are steel plate and
perforated (punched) to create the custom
letters for the six pillars of character. The
thermoplastic coating over the steel creates
a durable, low-maintenance bench.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.