Outdoor classroom complete thanks to community collaboration

During the summer of 2020, the Daniel Island School’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) had a dream — to build an outdoor classroom that could serve students in multiple ways. From lecture-style classes to small group formats, hands-on exploration, small performances, demonstrations, or group meetings, the space would provide an alternative to the school’s indoor learning environment.  
Today, phase one of the project is complete and ready for use in front of the school, near the Osprey Trail. Amenities include brickwork, amphitheater style seating, a presentation area, landscape elements that highlight native plants and geological features from South Carolina, a dry river bed, and a wooden bridge. The pathway leading to the classroom begins near the school’s flagpole and the osprey sculpture located across from the front entrance to the school.   
According to Courtenay Fisher, PTA wellness coordinator, the second phase of the outdoor classroom will include the addition of a whiteboard or chalkboard, a weather-friendly podium or table, educational signage, and a storage area for supplies.
The new outdoor classroom and community meeting space evolved from discussions between members of the Garden Club of Daniel Island, PTA representatives, and the Daniel Island Community Fund (DICF). 
At the beginning of the collaboration, Fisher said the PTA “had considered other locations and configurations for outdoor learning space, but was still prioritizing budget considerations, volunteer capacity and assessing feedback from DIS administration in an effort to deliver the most beneficial and feasible result.” 
She continued, “At the same time, the PTA continued to support and grow the garden program through a partnership with The Green Heart Project and Daniel Island School and community garden volunteers.”  
The Garden Club approached the PTA and presented an idea that positioned the outdoor classroom and a meeting space adjacent to the Osprey Trail. Noelle Castiglia, a landscape designer and parent at the school, joined the effort to assess the available space and created a preliminary sketch that was designed using input from
Principal Nancy Leigh and several teachers.   
“We used that sketch as a reference for discussions with community stakeholders including Jane Baker and Chris Hamil from the Daniel Island Community Fund and Daniel Island Property Owners Association (POA), then worked with landscape architects at Outdoor Spatial Design to generate the more formal plan that became the concept that exists today,” Fisher explained. 
Now, staff members can dream about how they will use the space. Amy Hardison, a seventh-grade teacher, said, “I plan on utilizing the space on our novel days, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. It will also be the perfect workspace for my students to create their project-based learning masterpieces that they are assigned throughout the year.”  
Community groups will have the option to sign up to use the space after school hours and on weekends; those interested can contact the POA for information. 
Fisher thanked the DICF for their contribution and said to the community, “Come enjoy the space, encourage and support your child’s teacher’s use of the space, and reach out to me if you would like to help sponsor any of the remaining elements or know of a business that would like to become a sponsor! Sponsors will be
recognized within the classroom space and in social media or other communications. Scout Boats is one of our initial sponsors, and we’re grateful for their support.”

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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