The Nature Explore Classroom at
The road to the Siwanoy School Outdoor Classroom was a long and bumpy one. It began over fifteen years ago, as a dream of the Siwanoy School Community.
Back around 2003 an outdoor classroom was synonymous to a garden. Over the years, the community persisted and the idea of an outdoor classroom evolved.
Finding Nature Explore was the perfect match to our mission of educating the whole child, striving to deliver the curriculum in ways that help students develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills they need to be successful. With the Nature Explore concept map in hand, we embarked on various fundraisers, including The Race for Education, and a Buy-A-Brick campaign, netting $150,000. We applied for and received a $150,00 grant from our state senator’s office, putting our fundraising to the top of our goal. Architect Michael Molinelli created a design from the concept map, with his arch entryway the finishing touch.
Our small, but beautiful space opened in May 2019. Monarch butterflies found our common milkweed and butterfly weed in the butterfly garden and laid many eggs, to the delight of the children. In the fall, adult butterflies found the asters and butterfly bushes, stopping for a bit before continuing their journey to Mexico. Fourth graders planted a three sisters garden as part of their study of the Native Americans of New York. Throughout the fall and winter, students delighted in solving problems, building structures, making memories, creating stories, and digging, digging, digging.
Our parent community has engaged children outside of the school day in the outdoor classroom, using it for scouts, and for family time.
Our Outdoor Classroom sits on a site that was a student garden over eighty years ago. The teachers and their students have now reclaimed this area, in enhanced and meaningful ways.
We are so grateful for the very generous contributions from our founding members, the many donations from the community, the support of the community, and the persistence of all who jumped through hoops, rode out the bumps, and wouldn’t quit until our Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom became a reality.