Students at Chandler Elementary School will be able to take their learning outside the classroom in the future as the school moves forward with a community project to beautify the campus.
Chandler was the recipient of a $39,250 Lowe’s Foundation grant that will allow the school to improve the look of the school’s landscaping while also giving students an outdoor learning space.
With grass unable to grow under the trees in front of the school, Chandler Principal Cindy Lindley said, the school has been an eyesore and some people in the neighborhood had been critical of the school’s appearance recently, even sending pictures to Kilgore ISD Superintendent Cara Cooke.
Last summer volunteers repainted the playground equipment at the elementary school, but the grant money will be used to redo the front of the school with low-maintenance stone and gravel and add seating for the community. The area beside the bus lane on the side of the school will have the same landscaping but will include areas blocked off for classroom and learning centers.
“It’s going to beautify the neighborhood for one. And we’re going to have seating areas, so any of the neighborhood people can come see it, read or whatever. It’ll be like a little park area out there,” Lindley said.
A weather station, erosion center, renewable energy and garden area will be some of the areas included in the learning center.
“When I’m talking about erosion, instead of talking about it, we can test it out and you can see it,” Lindley said. “That was the basic premise for that.”
Lindley’s goal is for teachers to use the outdoor learning centers to allow their students to get the experiences they might not otherwise have.
“It’s going to be beautiful, but the kids are going to have so many opportunities. The opportunities for hands-on and being outdoors will be limitless,” she said. “Whatever the teacher can come up with, we can make it happen outdoors in these outdoor classrooms now.”
Lowe’s will supply the material needed for the project and the school must partner with the community to make the plans a reality.
“I think the community if they will partner with the school that they will be able to not only enjoy it themselves, but feel like that they’re a part of the student’s education hands on first hand help make that happen for students in our community,” Lindley said.
Her goal, she said, is for the support to become cyclical in that the community helps the students who will go on to become contributing members in the community and give back to the community that helped them develop.
“That’s our hope to be a good steward in the community,” she said. “But for the neighborhood, it’s going to be a beautiful spot for them to walk and even use. Now the learning classrooms will be fenced in, but all the other stuff, the other seating and things will not.”