We laid the groundwork for an amazing playground for the kids of Tapestry Charter School and the surrounding community a few years ago. It was a ton of work but one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever been involved with. From the moment it was built you could always expect a regularly cacophony of shrieks and laughter as the kids navigated and explored their incredible “play and learn” space, the first they had ever had in the Tapestry community.
When I planned the playground I also envisioned a green learning structure, a free standing outdoor classroom for the students to use to learn about weather, sustainability, science, even art with paintable surfaces and an outdoor stage floor for performances. Then I took it even further and won a grant to be used for a greenhouse. What did we end up with? A green learning structure that was underutilized, a green roof that was planted and regularly died and a greenhouse that took time, energy, additional money and commitment to get off the ground. Nothing happened over night, but, after things fell into place, perseverance, a word that is such a strong part of Tapestry’s message, fell into place.
One parent could not make this project work. You have to build a network and that has happened at Tapestry through a strong Americorp volunteer base. This year we’ve had a volunteer who is particularly committed to wellness initiatives and sustainability and that is a big part of the reason this wonderful outdoor learning space has been further developed.
There will always be reasons for not pushing a new learning experience forward but in these days of Common Core and tired and stressed out students and teachers, shouldn’t we take a moment or two to reexamine current learning and curriculum development structures and think of ways to invigorate and engage students on a new level? Tapestry is doing that and it’s something to pay attention to.