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.
Thanks to an anonymous donation, the committee was able to provide pedometers to Morse Pond School to be used for both lessons with future walks for water, math and more!
We love to see the students using the outdoor classrooms. We also LOVE seeing their beautiful faces again!
"Here is a student in one of our outdoor classrooms finishing an end of unit project for the novel "Riding Freedom" and enjoying the warm weather. Our students are so excited to be outdoors with no masks!" - North Falmouth Elementary
Thank you to the volunteers who came out to prep the garden beds at North Falmouth Elementary this weekend!
Thank you so much to the install team at East Falmouth Elementary School! Special thanks to Christian Valle & William Kerfoot, our supervisors as well as the dynamite team from facilities and other parent, staff and committee volunteers! 6 down 1 tent to go for the 1st round! Next week is Mullen Hall which will complete the 1st round of outdoor classroom installs.
We are actively fundraising for the next round (so we can install over the summer) and are almost halfway there, plus raising funds for support of the curriculum for these spaces and walking field trip opportunities!
If you can donate, we would very much appreciate your contribution via Rotary Club of Falmouth Cape Cod, a 501c3 (tax deductible) organization! Here is the link: https://www.falmouthrotary.com/page/donate
Thank you to the Teaticket Crew who set up the outdoor classroom this past Saturday. Under the supervision of engineer, Bill Kerfoot, and comprised of amazing volunteers from the facilities staff, Rotarians, parents, students and staff they were able to get the tent up in 2 hours again! Thank you to Mike Heylin for his help getting some drone footage for us! This weekend East Falmouth Elementary School Tent Install! Only 2 left and the 1st round will be complete!
North Falmouth Elementary didn't waste any time by putting their new tent to use right after it was installed! We love to see it! These are the moments that make all our efforts worth while!
"Here is Mrs. Castleberry's 2nd grade class learning about telling time in our new tent. We are so thankful for the Outdoor Learning Committee and their support for our schools. Our new tents are able to stay up all year and will provide a wonderful outdoor learning space for years to come." -North Falmouth Elementary School
Way to go Morse Pond School Tent Install team! A new record was set installing in 2 hours! Special thanks to all our volunteers including a power team from facilities and our supervisor John Vidal!
Good morning from our 3rd install! Lawrence School Tent Install! We love our volunteers and community so much for getting it done!
Lawrence School Tent Install is now done! 3 down, 4 to go! Special thanks to a power facilities team and supervisor Christian Valle!
Next weekend join us for Morse Pond School Tent Install! Thank you to the install volunteers!!!!
Photo Credit: Steve Heaslip photos
Cape Cod Times
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