Kindergarten teacher Therese Markin with Brent Kennedy Elementary students at their new outdoor classroom. Submitted photos

Community comes together to create outdoor classroom at Kootenay school

Brent Kennedy Elementary has a new learning space thanks to an inspired teacher Kalesnikoff Lumber

Brent Kennedy Elementary School has a new outdoor classroom thanks to a teacher with initiative and a local company with a community spirit.

Kindergarten teacher Therese Marken has faced 25 years worth of back to school preparations, but thanks to COVID-19, this year is anything but routine.

As she began to brainstorm about how to make this a great year for her students in spite of the complications surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Marken came up with the idea of creating an outdoor classroom space.

Marken enlisted the help of her family to come up with a sketch and a proposal for the project.

“I was kind of afraid of asking for too much. I was just going to make some log rounds and plywood tables,” said Marken.

“I thought it would be just sort of be like a kindergarten camp that we could go to.”

Brent Kennedy’s principal and School District 8 gave their stamp of approval to the project and Marken approached Kalesnikoff Lumber with her proposal.

“Once the project fell into Kalesnikoff’s hands — it was amazing,” said Marken.

Kalesnikoff donated all of the lumber needed for the project including two tables crafted at their new mass timber facility.

RELATED: Equipment arrives for Kalesnikoff’s mass timber facility

“I had no idea what they were planning,” said Marken.

“I was almost in tears when the two trucks arrived with two beautiful tables, all the log rounds and all the other wood that was needed.”

Start to finish the project was complete in three weeks and in time for the second day of school. The outdoor classroom is now nestled on the edge of the woods that surrounds the school property.

“It felt like community caring for community,” said Marken about Kalensnikoff embracing the project.

“It is keeping the teachers safe, which is keeping the students safe, which is keeping the families safe. They were there for the community.”

Marken says not just her students, but the whole school has been enjoying the space.

“It’s a play space, it’s a learning space, it’s a social place,” she said.

Marken foresees using the space year round, even dressing her students up in their snowsuits for some outdoor learning. Lesson plans using snow, pebbles and pinecones for letters, counting and art projects are already dancing through her head.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Andrea Mann, Brent Kennedy Elementary’s Aboriginal education teacher leads a class up to the new learning space. Submitted photos

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Seventy bags of items were dropped off at the school during the two days. Photo: John Boivin
Stanley Humphries graduates raise $3844 from bottle drive

Fifty students came together over two days to collect and sort the items

Teck incurs no tax penalty

Provincial Economic Stabilization (COVID-19) Act extended commercial tax deadline to Sept. 30

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: BC Parks

Fifth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: life experience

Fourth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read