Possip Spotlight: Foust Elementary’s Outdoor Classroom

Students sitting on tree logs outdoors. A teacher writing on an outdoor chalkboard.

Foust Elementary looks like many other elementary schools. However, outside its four walls, there’s an outdoor classroom that amplifies the creative work Foust is doing inside the classroom.

Nicholas Dixon, Foust’s principal and a former teacher, always “relished in opportunities to take [his] students outdoors for lessons.” He said, “on the whole, students tended to be more engaged in lessons taught outdoors. Research shows that retention of content is higher, and students are less likely to need behavior redirection when lessons are delivered outdoors.” As Foust’s principal, Nicholas took his passion for outdoor education and created an outdoor classroom.

Foust and Possip

Like other Possip partners, he’s no stranger to innovating, adapting, and meeting needs. He’s also been on the reporting team at Possip–reviewing school reports and identifying priorities for Possip partners–since 2019. So, it’s not surprising that, when he has an idea to improve the student experience, he acts.

Foust Elementary started partnering with Possip during the 2020-21 school year. Using “Possip has extended our reach of parent engagement,” Nicholas said. “We have utilized the bonus question feature to pinpoint specific needs of our parents, and to identify areas that we can strengthen school operations. Parents feel like they have a voice, and their opinions are valued by our school’s administration.”

Creating an Outdoor Classroom

He started on the outdoor classroom by listing the essential components of an indoor classroom, and determining what teachers and students would need to be successful outdoors. He did some research and found a vendor called OutClass, “which offered exactly what [he] needed.” 

According to Nicholas, “teachers and students are excited about using the space! As we imagined, students cannot wait to get outdoors. We’re looking forward to sunnier and warmer days to make it happen.” 

When asked about his advice to other Possip Partners interested in creating an outdoor classroom, Nicholas said, “There’s an old saying, ‘crisis breeds creativity,’ so my advice to all Possip schools is to explore ways that they can ‘do school differently’ [in the midst of the pandemic].”

Thanks Nicholas for sharing about Foust’s outdoor classroom! Please let us know if you’d like us to connect you with Nicholas or any other Possip partner highlighted. You can learn more about Foust’s outdoor classroom here.