Hands-on learning outside traditional environment

Students enjoy learning in St. Joseph Catholic School’s new outdoor classroom in Winter Haven. (COURTESY)

WINTER HAVEN | Students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Winter Haven are leaving their desks and the four walls of their classrooms to learn in the great outdoors. The recently completed outdoor classroom provides a place where students can engage in hands-on learning outside of the traditional environment.

“It’s a place where the kids can go outside and do experiments and STREAM projects or just to read – it’s beautiful,” said principal Tammi Haas. “It’s a great little place for us. Now we have an area inside the security of the campus where classes go enjoy the sunshine and be messy or louder if they need to be.”

The classroom construction was spearheaded by Taylor Fedderly, a Santa Fe Catholic High School senior and St. Joseph School alum, who took on the renovation of an overgrown, disorganized area in the center of campus as his final Eagle Scout project. He raised more than $5,000 for building materials, designed and drew up plans, and with a team of volunteers, spent two-and-a-half months getting the space ready for the new school year. Together, his team built pergolas and benches, put up fencing, and laid down mulch to give the students a beautiful and creative place to explore and learn.

“St. Joseph was the school where I started my faith journey,” explained Fedderly. “St. Joseph’s teachers have helped me over my first eight years to develop the religious knowledge and core education that I still use today. Having an opportunity to give back to St. Joseph Catholic School and build an outdoor classroom space for future students gives me a chance to help in the growth of future leaders. Teachers can now embrace STREAM activities to allow their students the chance to get their hands dirty and enjoy learning.”

By Elizabeth Wilson, Florida Catholic Correspondent – November 7, 2018