Bringing nature into the classrooms

Adults top row l to r: Brittany Arnold – Rotary, Christopher Lounsbery – Principal, Burney Ramming – Lions Club, Aimee Paret – First Grade. Adults middle row l to r: Sarah Rudd-Perez – Kindergarten, Erica Minuto – Kindergarten, Ernesto Rodriguez – NITC. Courtesy photo

By Ernesto Rodriguez

Nature In The Classroom, a local non-profit company, recently installed ceiling murals of island trees in kindergarten through second grade classrooms at Avalon School.  The tree canopies included Scrub Oaks above Silver Canyon, Cottonwoods in the canyon with their namesake, the giant McDonald Oak in Middle Ranch, and endemic Island Oaks in Fern Canyon.

Christopher Lounsbery, Avalon’s principal, gave permission to install the first trial ceiling in Becky Davidson’s kindergarten in March of 2018. This paved the way for ceilings at Catalina Kid Ventures and Coyote Ridge Elementary in Colorado. The feedback from teachers is: students settle down quicker, the trees have sparked an interest in environmental stewardship, and students are saying the trees are the reason they like coming to school. 

These trial results have led to a scientific study to be conducted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with the installation of ceiling murals in an additional 160 classrooms.

It is incredibly heartwarming when a community comes together and pools its resources for the greater good. The four ceilings at Avalon School were made possible by the generous contributions of Jim and Joyce Brown, Lions Club, Rotary, Sue Rikalo, Mike Bone with Spectrum Sports, Sharon Flynn, and Pamela Albers.  

When it was time to install the ceilings, Nicole Hohenstein added to Rotary’s donation by housing the installer at the Holiday Inn. The focus of these events, friends and comradery is why I am proud to call Avalon home.

Ernesto Rodriguez is Executive Director for Nature In The Classroom