A Lowell Scott Middle School sixth-grade teacher won a $100,000 grant through Farmers Insurance that will pay to build an outdoor classroom at the school.
Paula Brockman, an English and geography teacher who has taught at Lowell Scott for 10 years, was surprised with the award during a school assembly Tuesday afternoon.
She is one of six educators from across the nation to receive a $100,000 grant from Farmers Dream Big Teacher Challenge. The Farmers award is the largest nontechnology grants a teacher has ever received in the West Ada School District, school officials said.
In a world seemingly dominated by technology, the outdoor classroom “allows more opportunity to step outside the classroom and learn in a different way,” Brockman said.
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She is a big believer in technology but “at the same time there needs to be a variety of ways to learn,” she said. “Some of us don’t feel our students (are in) touch with nature like maybe some of us who grew up more outdoors than indoors.”
Brockman’s outdoor learning center is planned to have interpretive learning stations, a greenhouse and area for a garden and fish stations.
Brockman worked with other teachers who inherited the idea from earlier teachers, but they could never get the funding. She was invited to apply for the grant from Farmers and submitted a plan.
Winners were based on the number of people who voted for the projects online.
She learned she was one of 15 finalists in September.