Location: Southeast Middle School, 4825 Woody Mill Rd, Greensboro, NC 27406

Community Impact: Over the past 10 years, Greensboro’s Southeast Middle School (SEMS) experienced exponential growth, requiring new classroom buildings that unfortunately took away much of the open outdoor area that teachers used for their students. In August, 2011, a group of SEMS teachers from different disciplines assembled to address the need for an outside area that could be used for classes in an outdoor learning center.

Their vision was for a usable outdoor classroom for Arts Education students to create murals and sculptures and have an area to sit and draw nature from life. Language Arts teachers would have an area for students to write about nature while using all their senses. Social Studies teachers would include native North Carolina plants. Science teachers would use the area for plant experiments and soil development, using raised garden beds to grow food for local food banks. The goal: have a working outdoor learning center that is fully functional installed at SEMS by the end of the 2014-15 school year.

In 2012, SEMS arts education and science teachers reached out to Project EverGreen and its community green space revitalization projects to request help to realize their dream for the outdoor learning center. After a considerable period of planning, coordination, and assembly of the needed volunteers, materials and equipment, the SEMS outdoor classroom was actualized and installed on June 8th, 2013, significantly ahead of the original 2014-15 target date!

“Our outdoor classroom has been a long-term goal for Southeast Middle School. Seeing it come to fruition today, after all the planning and contributions from Project EverGreen and its professional partners means so much to current and future teachers and students at SEMS, “ said Caitlin Fisher, the arts education teacher who first contacted Project EverGreen.

As part of its mission to improve and enhance green spaces where we live, work and play, and to increase consumer awareness of the many benefits of healthy, sustainable green spaces, Project EverGreen mobilized a network of local Triad professional landscaping contractors, nursery stock providers and green industry company sponsors – all volunteers, to donate their time, labor skills, equipment and materials to make the SEMS outdoor classroom possible.

Overall, the donations of nearly 50 plants and shrubs, compost mulch, pine straw, field stone pavers, plus landscaping design, and planning, prep and installation time and labor in-kind donations by participating volunteers totaled an estimated equivalent landscaping design and build retail value of over $4,000.

Project Scope:
New Landscape Design
Creation of New Planting Beds
Installation of Donated Nursery Stock
Installation of 6 Picnic Tables

Completion Date: June 8, 2013

Estimated Project Value: Over $4,000

Estimated Value of Volunteer Time: $1,500

Project Partners:
Southeast Middle School
New Garden Nurseries
Nature’s Select Premium Turf Services
John Deere Landscapes
Syngenta Lawn & Garden Co.