Westmoore Elementary, Aberdeen Elementary, and Vass-Lakeview Elementary were recently awarded a North Carolina Schools Go Outside (GO) Grant from the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council, according to a press release from the school district.
GO Grants are $250 to $15,000 grants that are provided to access field study locations and assist with other expenditures that result from taking students outdoors or to build outdoor classrooms.
Qualifying for grants require instructors to demonstrate how the experience will address topics currently being taught in class and that the experience meets the goals of the Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund plan. The program also allows staff at field study sites to apply on behalf of teachers with their permission.
The GO Grants are awarded by the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund for Youth Outdoor Heritage Promotion which is administered by the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council.
The Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council and Trust Fund were established in 2015 by the North Carolina General Assembly in an effort to expand the opportunities for persons age 16 and under to engage in outdoor recreational activities.
Sen. McInnis congratulated Dawn Early from Westmoore Elementary, McKelynn Barber from Aberdeen Elementary, and Vass-Lakeview Elementary School Principal Dr. Michelle Bennett for being awarded a GO Grant.
Fifth grade teacher Dawn Early fondly remembers Camp Caraway as a great experience when she was younger. It was so much fun, that years later, she is now taking her students.
As a veteran teacher of 14 years, Ms. Early wants to show how science applies to the world in which we live. Her goal to make science fun and not dry, so she applied for the GO Grant. She was awarded a $2,100 grant to take her fifth-grade class to the Caraway Conference Center.
The day trip to the Caraway Conference Center will include hands-on outdoor learning experiences about aquatic activities, ecosystems, how weather affects climate, and even a 250-foot zip line for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to try one. While digging into nature, students will also be using their math and reading skills.
McKelynn Barber and Principal Dante Pool, of Aberdeen Elementary School, pose where the outdoor classroom will be which is directly outside from the library. Photo via Moore County Schools.
McKelynn Barber, of Aberdeen Elementary School, was awarded a $14,768 GO Grant to go toward building an outside classroom at the school. Ms. Barber is a senior resident teaching artist with the Americorps organization ArtistYear.
She moved to North Carolina in 2021 to begin building relationships, dancing with, and teaching the students of Aberdeen Elementary.
She began brainstorming contributions to the school community. What evolved is a multipurpose outdoor learning space mimicking the capabilities of an indoor classroom.
The benefits of greenery planted the seed of how the open outdoor spaces on campus could be utilized. Research verified learning outside the four walls of a classroom provided benefits relating to behavior, focus, aspects of social-emotional learning, and overall health.
McKelynn stated, “This outdoor classroom is more than a space for learning and discovery. It represents the investment of Aberdeen Elementary in giving our students the best opportunities and resources we can. I am grateful that others have chosen to support this project. Thank you, and go Tigers!”
Vass-Lakeview Elementary School was awarded $15,000.
“Several years ago, Vass-Lakeview Elementary School created an outside garden that was maintained by staff, students, and the Vass Lion’s Club,” said Vass-Lakeview Elementary School Principal Dr. Michelle Bennett. “When Covid hit, the garden work came to a halt. Now that we have resumed normal activities, it was decided that the garden needed to be expanded, hence the grant submission for an outdoor garden classroom with an attached greenhouse. We are so excited that the North Carolina Schools Go Outside Grant was funded for the full amount of $15,000.
“Our vision is for the outdoor classroom and greenhouse to be used to supplement the K-5 curriculum in a variety of areas while incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. This will definitely be a school-wide project with parents, staff, students, and the Vass Lion’s Club chipping in to ensure our vision comes to fruition.”
Photo: Ms. Dawn Early and her fifth grade students at Westmoore Elementary School. Photo by Moore County Schools.