Students from Glynn A. Green Public School and Brock University got their hands dirty for a new outdoor classroom in Pelham.
The entire project, spearheaded by Dr. Mary Breunig, an associate professor at Brock University and Cassie Wever, who’s working on her Masters in Environmental studies at York University, aimed to create awareness on what’s outside the regular classroom.
The project was possible from the two seeking out grants, much like Breunig has done at previous schools. With support of the faculty at Glynn A. Green and a freshly awarded  Niagara Community Foundation grant, the work got started last spring.
“I want to get more kids out and aware of the environment,” Breunig said. “Not just the awareness of the environment, but also leads to changes in behaviour.”
She says the students will have raised beds and will be able to plant their own seeds and watch them grow. This gives them a better understanding of where their food comes from and the care needed to sustain it. 
“It’s already being reflected in how well the students have taken care and gotten involved with the outdoor classroom.”
The kids weren’t the only ones learning either. Students in her outdoor environmental class at Brock University were also broadening their horizons. With many set to be future teachers, Breunig got them discussing how they can provide the same projects to their potential schools.
“Students write lesson plans that connect with units in the Ministry curriculum,” she said. “We’ll then create a lesson plan booklet that we’ll give to the school so teachers can bring students out with a better understanding of how to connect the classroom into learning.”
She was also amazed at the support from the faculty and students towards building something special for the playground. That enthusiasm has Breunig hoping to continue providing assistance to schools in Niagara looking to take the next environmental step.
“It’s a really unique way of teaching. The schoolyard is such a natural place for their curiosity  – asking  questions and finding out about the surrounding natural environment. It’s the perfect combination for children.”
Visit her website at www.marybreunig.com.