Outdoor Learning is Here to Stay: Permanent Tents To Be Installed at All 7 Falmouth Public Schools by End of Summer
The Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee, in collaboration with the Falmouth Public Schools, are pleased to announce that six all-weather tents have been installed at all but one of Falmouth’s seven public schools. The last of the tents is scheduled to be installed at Mullen-Hall Elementary School by the end of the summer.
The purchase of tents was made possible by generous community donations
and funding from the schools. The tents are WeatherPort brand, can withstand New
England weather and have a lifespan of 15-20 years. The total amount raised for the
overall project to date exceeded $100,000. Fundraising efforts remain ongoing with the
goal to raise another $100,000 for a both second set of tents for the schools as well as
curriculum support, enrichment activities, professional development, and supplies.
In August 2020, the Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee, a subcommittee of the
Rotary Club of Falmouth, Cape Cod, formed in an effort to help keep students safe
during the pandemic by creating outdoor learning spaces. Inspired by the reopening
committee put together by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lori Duerr and her willingness
to work together and problem solve, members of that same committee took off and
running with the idea of outdoor education as a chance to not only keep students safe
during a pandemic but also enrich student learning during and after. With the
encouragement and support of Dr. Duerr and her administration, the committee
flourished. Administration, principals, teachers, parents and students collaborated
together to prepare for the reopening last fall as well as met weekly as the school year
progressed. The schools also contributed towards the purchases of the tents. As the
project has grown, the administration has looked to hiring a Learning Partnership
Specialist who will help with the project as it grows in partnership with the community.
“I am so grateful to everyone for their support especially Dr. Duerr, her administration,
our dedicated teachers, the parents, the students, community volunteers and
businesses. The pandemic did bring about blessings in the form of allowing our
community to come together and problem solve for the good of our children. It has been
overwhelming to see how the town of Falmouth has risen to the call of service above
self, a Rotary motto, during a time filled with uncertainty.”
Funds were raised for supplemental materials including white boards, picnic tables,
clipboards, sanitizing wipes, and more. Hundreds of volunteer hours were also logged
to cut and set up tree stump logs, create a tree stump interactive math game, setup sun
sails, clean up gardens, deliver goods, line fields, make yoga mat seating, and
more recently, install tents. To date the committee has put in over 1300 hours of
volunteer hours including close to 300 hours of time setting up the outdoor classroom
tents thanks in large part to the dedicated facilities teams from the schools.
“This project, which aligns with so many of Rotary International areas of focus was
featured in national news stories in the NY Times as well as international news through
CBC Canada,” said Falmouth Rotary Club President, Paul McCadam. “Our club has a
major commitment to the youth of Falmouth and it is our goal to help the youth becomethe leaders of tomorrow.”
COVID-19 transmission is greatly reduced when individuals are outdoors and studies
have shown that children are more engaged when learning outside. Outdoor learning
reduces the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning
opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature. It also
helps to have a more place-based education approach that involves making
connections to global context through an interdisciplinary approach while using the
community as a classroom.
The Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee is excited to see this effort come to fruition
and for what the future holds with this community wide collaboration. The committee
joined by teachers around the district are entering the next phase of support for the
students and staff. A resource page is being constructed on the website to help support
teachers as needed. In addition, partnerships with local nonprofits are ongoing and
outdoor classroom curriculum is being designed to help assist teachers with this new
The Rotary Club of Falmouth and the Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee would like
to like to thank our Sponsors and Partners for their continued support:
300 Committee; Anonymous 1; Accurate Fence; Apache Mills; MBL; Cape Cod
Aggregates; Cape Cod Electrical; Cape Cod Five; Cape Cod Health Care; Cape
Cod Moms; Chick-Fil-A Plymouth; Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod; Eastern Bank;
Falmouth DPW; Falmouth Road Race; Falmouth Toyota; Falmouth VIPS; Gary
DellaPosta, CPA; Good Grief Cape Cod; Hamilton Tree & Landscaping; Inman
Tree; Inspiration is Everywhere; John LeBlanc Construction; Kerfoot
Technologies; Martha’s Vineyard Bank Charitable Foundation; Murray
MacDonald Insurance; Nissa Morton Yoga; Pamela Heylin, Realtor; Pie in the
Sky Bakery; Pure Warrior Cape Cod; Richards Designs; Robert Minshall Painting
& Papering; Recovery Without Borders; Remy’s Rainbows; Rooted Cape Cod;
Scoutlier; Supreme Pizza; The Valle Group; The Yoga Collaborative; Three
Streams Yoga; Turning Pointe Dance Studio; Tuttu4u Accessories; UptownBody; Vidal Construction; and WHOI.
The committee website is: www.falmouthoutdoorlearningproject.com where you can
view their sponsors and keep up to date on their current activities and successes. You
can donate to help the committee financially via Rotary Club of Falmouth, Cape Cod, a
Please reach out to Committee Lead Amy Leonardi with questions and details surrounding the tent install, to get involved and plans for the future.
Earlier this week Grace Simpkins from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Outreach and Education on Protected Species (NOEPS) program visited Mrs. Noonan's and Mrs. Serdy's first grade classes and our students learned all about animal habitats and animal adaptations! It was so much fun and an awesome experience!
We are still fundraising for the 2nd round of tents, curriculum enrichment and more. Please consider a tax deductible donation to this project via Rotary Club of Falmouth Cape Cod, a 501c3.
Photo Credit: Steve Heaslip photos
Cape Cod Times
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