Courtyards Allow for Outside Learning

Courtyards Allow for Outside Learning
Mandalay Courtyard

Classroom space is prime real estate for school districts complying with New York State social-distancing regulations, but Mandalay’s PTA organization had the foresight to redevelop internal courtyards prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the courtyards have been a valuable asset for teachers and students who take learning outside on a daily basis.

Principal Marie Pisicchio said the courtyard spaces have been an invaluable tool. “The students are stuck inside for most of the day with masks on, so the courtyards allow the students to enjoy learning in an alternate location and to relax for part of the day,” she said.
Former Mandalay Elementary School PTA President Irene Hudson explained that reallocation of funds and parent gifts have facilitated the construction of a vibrant outdoor learning space that include paved patio space, sun-shading, bright colored chairs for classroom instruction and outdoor lunches, murals based on the school’s favorite books and a rock garden inspired by
Linda Kranz’s book “Only One You” about the importance of individuality. This art installation is an
example of how the students have been able to put their mark on the project and make the courtyard their own space.

She also noted that the Class of 2020 allocated their end-of-year and graduation funds to the project since they were unable to use the designated monies due to the onset of the pandemic in March. There is a plaque in one courtyard, commemorating the generous donation from “A Class with a Vision” #Quarantined and listing the names of the graduates.

Ms. Hudson said the PTA is currently fundraising for a third courtyard and that the school owes custodians David Novak and Bobby Humphreys much gratitude for their hard work during the construction phase.
“It takes a lot of time and there is expense involved, but in the end these courtyards are forever,” she Ms. Hudson said.