Lee County Middle School builds Outdoor Classroom

(LEESBURG, Ga)- What was once an empty lot just outside the halls of Lee County Middle School East is now a unique experience for all of the students.

It’s called an Outdoor Classroom.

Teachers, Sherry Exum and Danielle Rudd say the idea for this classroom goes as far back as the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

The two had students learn to break down donated pallets and rebuild them into different items that they sold, such as wooden lanterns, Christmas trees and door hangers, raising money for the school.

Following that, Exam presented her students with a question and a challenge.

“What was something about our school that they could improve on? And they decided unanimously to create an outdoor classroom where students of all abilities can come and interact and socialize and learn,” says Exem.

Danielle Rudd tells us, “One of the reasons we wanted to build it for our school was to give all abilities a place where they could feel included. Where they could learn to socialize well with each other.”

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon, where students, regardless of what class they’re in can learn in a green space and interact with everyone, including students with special needs.

In addition to the money raised from selling the repurposed wood, the students got support from the community in donated supplies, and artwork. The students would go on to build benches, chairs, tables, and with the money they raised, were even able to purchase a wheelchair swing.

6th graders, Vanessa Beaulieu and Sierra Felton are two of the students who helped to build the space, and they say it’s perfect for all students.

Felton says, “I think that it’s awesome because these kids stay in a classroom by themselves, not getting to see other people. And I think that it’s great for them to get to talk and interact with other kids like us.”

Even 8th grade student, Brayden Jackson who has special needs is enjoying getting to be around his classmates in what’s still a classroom environment.

He tells us, “Lee County Middle School. I love the swings.”

With the outdoor classroom bringing the students of Lee County Middle School East together, the next step is to expand upon it for the next school year.