In the style of HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” Stuff the Bus founder and WDNS-FM D-93 radio host Tony Rose led Rockfield Elementary School students Monday in chants of “move that bus” to unveil their new outdoor classroom space.
For Ashley Buchanon, who teaches fourth grade at the school, the moment was the culmination of a long-held dream, she said.
Complete with new seating under a shelter, raised garden beds and a compost bin, Buchanon hopes the area will help refresh students between conventional classroom lessons.
“We’re sitting here learning the exact same thing, but we’re in a different space. Their focus is different. Their mindset is different, and then when we do go back inside, they stay focused so much longer,” Buchanon said.
The new space was made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Stuff the Bus Foundation and landscaping services from Real Solutions Professional Services, including from Real Solutions owner Trystan Watkins, a former Rockfield student.
Rose said he hopes the school can make use of the space for years to come, and he called the effort one of the Stuff the Bus Foundation’s biggest projects to date.
The idea grew out of several teachers’ experiences touring the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Buchanon said. The nonprofit middle school is known for its nontraditional approach to education and has drawn several celebrity donors.
“They have an indoor slide. We can’t do an indoor slide, so we were trying to think of a way … to be special, to be different, just to amp it up,” Buchanon said, adding that students started pitching ideas for an outdoor space last school year.
Later, when the opportunity to apply for the Stuff the Bus Foundation grant became available, Buchanon reached out to Rose with a rough idea for the space.
The project was completed during the district’s fall break last week. “They nailed it,” Buchanon said.
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