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.
Thank you to Cape Cod 5 for awarding a $2500 grant to the Falmouth Outdoor Learning Committee to support our project!! We love our local community banks! "Defiantly Independent. Exceptionally Strong. Unquestionably Committed."
We would also like to thank the Falmouth Road Race for their extremely generous grant donation of $10,000 towards the shelters for the Outdoor Learning Classrooms! Their commitment to the overall health and well being of our community, our children and our teachers/staff is beyond compare. This brings us even closer to our goal to fund 15 of the shelters. We are humbled to have been selected as one of the recipients for this year!
If you would like to make a donation please do so via Rotary Club of Falmouth Cape Cod, a 501c3 organization via check or their website! Please help us reach our goal and get these ordered asap! We are so close and it is with the support of our families, our businesses and our local partners that we can achieve something special for our students. We are running a marathon and everyone is part of the team!
As of 2021, donations are now being accepted via the Rotary Club of Falmouth, Cape Cod, a registered 501(c)(3) at their website via their DONATE Button. Please make sure you choose “Youth-Outdoor Classroom Fund.” You can also mail the check to alleviate credit card fees to Rotary Club of Falmouth: PO Box 293 Falmouth, MA 02541 and we ask that you add a memo to restrict the funds for the "Outdoor Learning Project".
We want to kick off December and the month of giving back by highlighting just how much we have accomplished in such a short time. We want to thank our dedicated leadership team, our amazing volunteers including the Rotary Club of Falmouth Cape Cod (accounts for approx 1/3 of our volunteer hours), and our community for rising to the challenge of helping our local public schools. This is such an accomplishment and everyone who has contributed no matter how small has helped us achieve this- so THANK YOU!!!
We are currently working really hard at Phase 2 by providing WeatherPort Shelter Systems at each school (can hold up in 120 mph winds and a 90 inch snow load) and supporting curriculum. In order to do this especially with the shelters we still need to fundraise especially if we want to get them here as close to after the holiday break as possible. We hope that this holiday season you might consider writing a check for as little as $10 to help support the shelter portion of the project!
If you would like to contribute please mail a check (or you can drop off to Amy-just comment and we can arrange it) to Falmouth Volunteers in Public Schools - VIPS and write on the memo line: Falmouth Outdoor Learning-Shelters. You can also choose to donate online via the VIPS website but a processing fee applies and you must be sure to select our project on the drop down menu.
Thank you to Murray & MacDonald Insurance for the donation of 20 portable desks to Morse Pond. These lightweight desks will make outdoor learning so much easier!!
We are now only 20 away from reaching our goal of 60!
If you’d like to make a donation, please reach out Jackie Jepsen, our point person for Morse Pond School.
Need for all 4 elementary schools and Morse Pond:
5 schools are seeking a large amount of the following as each student will need to have their own set. These will be used for both PE and recess activities (students have to remain in their cohort zones and 10 feet apart if active and no masks). These materials will allow for our students to remain active, have fun, and engage. Many of these items are currently on sale and can be purchased in bulk. These students make up approximately 1900 of local children who will benefit!!
Individual ball skippers (like a skip it)
If you are interested contact us below. Our leadership team will coordinate getting everything to the school!
Photo Credit: Steve Heaslip photos
Cape Cod Times
The Falmouth Outdoor Learning committee is a project of:
in partnership with:
We will share volunteer updates, supply needs, updates and more!