A current trend in many states is to close smaller neighborhood schools and consolidate operations into larger buildings serving broad geographic areas. Usually, the closed building remains as a too quiet, deteriorating sentinel of the past.
In Mansfield, Ohio, a closed elementary school has taken on an exciting new life as an outdoor learning center. Mansfield City Schools, a long time promoter of outdoor education, has converted the aging Springmill Elementary School into a center for science education, professional development, adventure education and traditional outdoor learning experiences.
The Springmill Learning Center opened this winter with a featured indoor ropes course and climbing elements. The features were installed in the former gymnasium which was meticulously transformed by a local artist to look like the ravine and streambed that traverse the school grounds. Students not only have the energizing experience of adventure element, but also get a great foreshadowing of the amazing outdoor landscape that awaits them on a future visit.
Take a look at the photo albums that Springmill provides on Facebook. (http://www.facebook.com/SpringmillLearningCenter ) The pictures dramatically show what can be done with a building that no longer functions in its traditional role. I’m eager to hear of other school transformations that have taken place in other school districts.