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Transformations by Design

by Dex Lane
July/August 2015
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/transformations-by-design/5022418/

Children, parents, families, teachers, and even communities can be transformed by the power of a carefully and collaboratively designed natural outdoor classroom, and by its ripple effects throughout a school. This transformative experience can easily be seen in East Los Angeles at the two-year-old Fourth Street Early Childhood Center, where Principal Josefina Navarro and her staff oversee an oasis of learning and wonder.

The Fourth Street Early Education Center has a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom that was one of the first of its kind for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Josefina’s teachers fell in love with the space immediately. She says, “My staff was knocking on doors asking for donations for dirt. They went to houses that were being demolished and asked for materials that could be brought back to the school.” Staff arranged for donations of plants and bought materials from secondhand stores and yard sales that complemented the space.

Josefina and her staff are grateful for the support from senior administrators in the LAUSD facilities and education departments who had the vision of natural outdoor classrooms. They embraced the process of collaborative design in which educators, designers, ...

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