Lowe’s, garden club create outdoor classroom for Midway Elementary

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

August 24, 2013

Students at Midway Elementary School will have a new kind of classroom to bloom and grow in this school year — an outdoor classroom sponsored by Just-A-Mere Garden Club.

Out of their desire to nurture future citizens who have an understanding of and appreciation for gardening, local Just-A-Mere Garden Club members wrote an outdoor classroom grant, submitting their idea to Lowe’s.

Thanks to the club’s efforts, the elementary school was awarded the Lowe’s Heroes Award — a grant valued at $1,000 plus labor — to turn the school’s courtyard into an inviting outdoor space meant for learning.

Over the summer, the courtyard’s transformation took place. A team from Clinton’s Lowe’s store — Richard Allen, Misty Fussell, Jim Fiala, Donna Hill, Randolph Morrisey, James McLamb, and Sam Underwood — worked hard to finish the project in time for students’ return next week.

During the summer months, the team created a butterfly garden, complete with a landscape border and 30 assorted perennials. They also installed a bird feeder, a hummingbird feeder, two door mats, and four garden benches.

They added a potted plant to the gazebo at the center of the courtyard and mounted four dry-erase boards around the outside of the gazebo, along with a lock-box housing markers and erasers for teachers to use.

To help make caring for the garden easier, the team also installed a tangle-free garden hose and reel.

The Lowe’s team visited the school Friday morning, joining Just-A-Mere Garden Club members and the school’s faculty and staff for breakfast and a final view of the finished outdoor classroom.

As everyone gathered in the courtyard, Midway Elementary principal Jennifer Daniels shared that the gazebo was actually built by Midway High School students in 2004 before the facility became an elementary school.

Daniels noted that when the elementary school staff moved to the new location, they wanted to keep the gazebo because they saw value in it.

However, “we didn’t use this area much at all last year,” said Daniels, describing the original courtyard as “not kid-friendly” and not conducive to instruction.

“The garden club saw the value of the area,” continued Daniels, praising the club for their initiative in writing the grant. She also thanked the employees from Clinton’s Lowe’s store, pointing out that they planted lots of perennials. “We have flowers that we’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.”

“They’ve made this an instructional place for teachers,” Daniels added, noting that she knows student will be more engaged in learning next year thanks to the new and improved learning environment.

On behalf of the Lowe’s team that gave of their time and talents to transform the old courtyard a welcoming and exciting place for kids to learn, Fussell shared that the project was “a great opportunity for us to give back to the community…we appreciate the opportunity you all gave us to do that.”

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at