PJ Gillen School has a dream to provide its staff and students with an opportunity to focus on their personal mental health, along with recognizing and respecting the First Nations Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. Our goal is to develop an outdoor classroom space that will provide a variety of areas that students and staff can attend that will allow a focus on their personal mental health. The outdoor space will also provide learning opportunities where the First Nations culture will be spotlighted and teaching/learning can take place.
The various areas of our outdoor classroom serve different purposes. The circular paved patio featuring the inlaid medicine wheel, along with 7 reading hutches each focusing on one of the 7 Sacred First Nations Teachings, will allow for a permanent teaching tool that features First Nations beliefs. The area can be utilized for a number of things, from hopscotch to First Nations teachings to quiet reading areas for students to access throughout the day.
The covered outdoor classroom area will provide permanent covered seating for classrooms to move outdoors to teach or simply as a place for students and staff to enjoy the outdoors.
The greenhouse and garden plots serve curricular purposes, as well as provides students with a sense of belonging and responsibility to the environment. Various curriculums will access this space to enhance outcomes in the classroom. The inner circle featuring plant plots will also provide students and staff with an opportunity to learn about prairie vegetation that we plan to feature. Our intention in this space is to showcase vegetation found on the prairies. The fruit bushes will be used with curricular content but also to teach students to respect the environment. We hope to eventually harvest the fruit from these bushes for students to enjoy!
Lastly, the sandbox and seating area will provide a space for students to enjoy the outdoors.
Many of our students are looking for areas to relax with their friends or simply read a book and enjoy the sunlight. Not all of our students are looking to play soccer or throw a football at recess. We have a large number of students who enjoy time to themselves and time to relax. This space provides just that. By adding an outdoor space to our school, we are extending our classrooms beyond the walls of our school and tapping into an outdoor area that isn’t always utilized. Not only is this space available to our 250 students and 25 staff members, we hope also that our community will utilize this space as well. It will be a great space for our families to come together and enjoy!