John Harris Elementary is raising money to give students a new outdoor experience

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Right now many people don’t want to spend much time outside. But one elementary school in Sioux Falls is looking to the future in hopes of better utilizing outdoor space to get students learning in a new way.

A Gofundme page has been set up by John Harris Elementary School to give a new learning experience to students that takes them out of the traditional four walls of a classroom … and into the outdoors.

Although the ground is currently frozen, organizers of the Gofundme account hope to transform this place into a beautiful area for students to get a new type of learning in a sustainable way.

“Something that kids could just come to and feel a sense of relaxation and freedom and kind of unplug from the classroom environment,” Stefanie Hage, the library teacher at John Harris said.

Stefanie Hage says an outdoor classroom could promote innovation and creativity among the students, but she also hopes the outdoor classroom can be a calming area for the 670 plus kindergartners through fifth graders at John Harris.

“When we were talking to students about this space, they thought, ‘oh that’d be really cool because we can just kind of calm down.’ And that in itself is a pretty powerful tool for us as educators,” Hage said

Hage says they got the idea for the outdoor space after Augustana University completed an outdoor campus last summer. Among the trees and perennials, there will be features that accommodate everyone.

“It’s accessible for all, so it will have a ramp for wheelchairs and everybody will be able to access and use the classroom area,” Cindy Breen, the instructional coach at John Harris said.

The school hopes to begin working on the space this summer.

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