WHY DO WE NEED AN OUTDOOR CLASSROOM?
Originally built in 1929, the Mary Lin Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia underwent renovations to its facilities in 2015. Because of the value the Mary Lin community holds for the benefits of outdoor active play, the renovation of the playground had unprecedented community support and raised $150K. Meanwhile an adjacent Habitat and the garden program languished due to construction and a drought.
In 2016, Mary Lin received a pilot-program recognition award called FELP (Future Environmental Leaders Program) to reinvigorate the Habitat and garden program and transform it into an Outdoor Classroom (OC) learning space. A FELP partner, landscape architect, Joan Piccalo, also offered her pro bono services (worth $10K) to create initial plans. With additional funds raised from the community, creation and maintenance of the OC will complete the circle of outdoor education, providing an opportunity for a value-specific education. In other words, the playground provides active space, the OC will provide a sacred learning space. We have an opportunity to lead the way for other APS sustainable outdoor classroom initiatives.
The Outdoor Classroom Committee is made up of a group of dedicated parents, teachers, administrators and a landscape architect working together to redesign a new outdoor classroom space that reflects our unique community.
OUTDOOR CLASSROOM COMMITTEE
Co-Chair, Allison Turner
Allison Turner Ray is a mother of two Mary Lin kids and has lived in Atlanta for over 15 years. She, her husband Nelson Ray and their kids love being a part of such a great Mary Lin community. She wants to contribute to future environmental stewards by making an educational outdoor learning space for all our kids.
Co-Chair, Tamara Jones
Tamara Jones has been a Mary Lin parent since 2007. An architect by training, she is passionate in the areas of historic preservation, master planning, and sustainable design. She has served on Lin’s Local School Council, the Grady Cluster Planning Committee, and is currently a member of the Go Team at Inman Middle School.
Mary Lin Education Foundation Liaison, Annsley Klehr
Annsley Klehr is a native Atlanta, she spent 10 years in Philadelphia before returning home a year ago with her husband, Ben, and two children, Layla and Sawyer. Layla is a 2nd grader at Mary Lin, and Sawyer is attending Grant Park Cooperative Preschool. Annsley holds an undergraduate degree in education from Washington University and a masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Teaching, Learning, & Curriculum. She incorporated outdoor education on an on-going basis in her classroom, taking her kids camping, growing plants, using nature as an inspiration for writing, studying the solar system, etc. She was a teacher at Cliff Valley School and at a parent-teacher cooperative school in Philadelphia. In addition to her MELF responsibilities, she currently serves as the Lake Claire Education Chair and our school’s CINS representative. Annsley enjoys adventures with her kids, Appalachian clogging with a performing dance troupe, skiing, tennis, crafting, obsessing over fermenting foods and preserving, and spending time outdoors.
Communications & Go Green Week Coordinator, Julie Roseman
Julie Roseman has two children at Mary Lin. As a part-time Multimedia Consultant and former television producer, Julie uses her social media skills and passion for environmental education to spread the word about Mary Lin’s Outdoor Classroom & Learning Garden. She created last year’s Weather Watchers Guest Speaker Program with Mary Lin Parent and FEMA Hurricane Specialist, Rebecca Moulton as well as this year’s first Mary Lin Go Green Week. In addition to the Outdoor Classroom Committee, Julie serves as a trustee on the Mary Lin Education Foundation.
Landscape Architect, Joan Piccalo
Joan Piccalo balances imagination with conservation through crafting how people experience the physical world around them. In 19 years as a practicing landscape architect, Joan has provided design services to both commercial & residential owners seeking high-functioning outdoor spaces that seamlessly integrate architectural & engineering elements into the landscape. Locally, Joan works to inspire and educate others in sustainability and design through volunteering and pro bono services, and has proudly served on the advisory board of the Lifecycle Building Center for 2 years.
Mary Lin Garden Club, Andy Woodworth
Andy Woodworth has been a Mary Lin parent since 2016. Andy is passionate about helping kids discover the wonder of the natural world first hand. He has extensive experience in outdoor education in summer camping environments, and has been a part of community gardens in urban settings and youth-oriented settings in Atlanta and in Northern Virginia. Andy and his wife Anjie are currently serving as the co-pastors of a new church in Candler Park.
Mary Lin Instructor, Kristin Guthrie
Mary Lin Instructor, Gregg Rice
Gregg Rice has loved learning through nature ever since his childhood days when he explored the woods behind his Massachusetts home, climbing trees, napping on beds of moss, and collecting rocks.
Gregg has worked and volunteered as an environmental educator, leading groups of kids in activities at the Newman Wetlands Center in Hampton, Georgia, at the Fernbank Museum, and at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. He’s been a member of the National Audubon Society, Georgia Native Plant Society, and Appalachian Mountain Club.
As a teacher, some of his most memorable experiences with his classes have been taking students out into nature to explore, observe, and learn. They’ve taken writing journals to wetlands in New England, tapped their own maple syrup, and waded tide pools for starfish. In Colorado, they hiked into alpine zones to meet climate scientists at work, observed herds of elk on the move, and gone on night hikes by moonlight at environmental camps in the Rockies. Here in Atlanta, we’ve planted trees in Freedom Park, sketched adopted native perennials each season just down the hill from Mary Lin, and been delighted by newly hatched robin chicks and mud dauber wasps right outside our classrooms. Gregg sometimes gets caught up in indoor book learning, distracted by the demands of state test preparation and keeping up with the district’s packing guides. At some point, he sees a bored student and an alarm goes off in his head. We have to put down the books and go outside and really learn. And then they do!
Mary Lin Instructor, Stephanie Shumacher