Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Building an Outdoor Classroom

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 issue of .