Mariner Middle School teachers plan to create an outdoor learning space

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
Mariner Middle School teachers are planning an outside classroom do deal with the pandemic. (CREDIT: WINK News)

As teachers and students adapt to new learning environments, it’s given them the chance to change the classrooms.

In this case, a Mariner Middle School teacher is toying with the possibility of moving the classroom outdoors.

The last year, teaching with masks has proven to be difficult for Stacey Sawyer. Sawyer is a 28-year teacher veteran.

“It’s really hard,” Sawyer said. “It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life.”

With a mask on, teaching isn’t as effective.

“I have a hearing disability and I actually have hearing aids and everything, but I always would read the students’ lips all the time to be able to understand them, until this day I still read lips,” Sawyer said.

So Sawyer and two other teachers want to move the classroom outdoors so everyone can take off their masks. The Lee County school district has approved of the plan, but told teachers they have to raise money on their own to make it happen.

The goal is to raise enough money for other teachers to create outside learning spaces, too.

“The space is going to be specifically tailored for the learning experience so even though we’re going to have different kinds of seating, it will all work face towards one area so that if a group is presenting or if a teacher is delivering instruction, everyone will be able to see what’s going on,” said Kristen Totten, also a teacher at Mariner Middle School.

For Marine teacher Justine Shaul, it’s the engagement she misses the most.

“The idea of being able to go outside and stay socially distant and not have our masks on and increase engagement again, I think it’s so important,” Shaul said.

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