The outdoor learning center was a project inspired by a trip taken by TA Dugger faculty and students to Costa Rica in 2018. During this trip, faculty and students were exposed to just how practical and beneficial having outdoor spaces for learning and community could be. During a project based learning training that same summer, a number of faculty agreed that an outdoor learning center was a project that would greatly benefit our students and could be accomplished by the students in our gifted program.
That following January of 2019, the project began. Nineteen gifted students, with the help of Ms. Arrowood, started researching different methodologies of teaching, collaborating with design schools such as Purdue Polytechnic High School, learning about effective surveying from employees at Stanford University, and putting research to action in creating their own digital and 3D models of the outdoor space. Local designer, Missy Whitehead from Missy Whitehead Designs, donated her time and efforts to work with the students and bring their ideas to life with state-of-the-art design technology.
The culmination of the project was in the final presentations in May. Each design team presented their proposals to a distinguished group of individuals from all over our school system and community, and with the generous donation of Lowe's of Elizabethton to fund the entire project, the students' vision was brought to life. The final details of the classroom, such as artwork and greenery, were added upon the students' return to school in August under the new gifted program director, Jessica Mowry. The Outdoor Learning Center was officially opened on Thursday, October 17, 2019 for current and future generations of TA Dugger students to enjoy for years to come.