Outdoor classroom adds a new venue for learning
Brookfield school's facility slated to be dedicated Friday
Brookfield Elementary Principal Lynn Gutchewsky likes it when her students aren't in school.
No, Gutchewsky isn't promoting absenteeism. She likes it when students aren't in school - because it means they're probably outside using the school's new outdoor classroom.
The outdoor classroom, a project sparked and funded by Brookfield Elementary's parent-teacher organization, has its official dedication tomorrow, but some students and teachers have been using the new facility already.
"The kids are so excited to go in there," Gutchewsky said.
The classroom, located on the south side of the school, features amphitheatrical seating surrounding a main lecture area and can seat approximately 120 students. Gutchewsky envisions a multitude of uses for the space, including grade-level presentations, and performances by band and orchestra students, science projects.
"Certainly the classroom teachers have a lot of ideas how they might use it," she said. "All content areas - art, music, (physical education) - they've all demonstrated interest."
Help from parents
The idea of an outdoor classroom emerged a few years ago after Brookfield Elementary's PTO decided to move forward with one larger-scale project at the school rather than several smaller-scale ones, PTO President Andrea Knopp said.
"It was something that all kids can use and all teachers can use, so that was a nice way to utilize the funds," Knopp said.
A fundraiser took place in 2009, and the city's Common Council approved the project in May of this year. Construction started in August, and the roughly $20,000 project wrapped up this month.
"It gives the teachers and the students a different venue to educate the kids," Knopp said. "It's a different learning style."
Gutchewsky is grateful to the parents, groups and other individuals who contributed.
"Without the collaboration with our PTO and our fabulous parent and support community, we wouldn't have been able to do this," she said.
As part of the city's approval, the classroom does not have lighting or a sound system. Gutchewsky said plans are to use it mostly during the school day, although some scout groups have expressed interest in using the facility.
Still, the facility is first and foremost for students at Brookfield Elementary, and Gutchewsky said she hopes the nice weather sticks around for a little while, for the sake of the outdoor classroom.
"The winter's coming," she said. "People want to get as much use out of it as possible."
WHAT: Dedication ceremony for Brookfield Elementary's
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Brookfield Elementary, 2530 N. Brookfield Road
INFORMATION: (262) 785-3930 or elmbrookschools.org/BrookfieldElementary/index.nws