The Outdoor Classroom


Old Trail School is the only independent school in the United States located within a National Park. In the past year, the School has started to implement change and evolve – looking to enhance the opportunities and experiences for their students. Old Trail has teamed up with our office to begin making changes to their beautiful campus that embrace their mission and increase student engagement in the outdoors. Head of the School Sarah Johnston, shared this information with the School community along with some of our graphics at the School’s annual Auction. Needless to say, the message and concept has been well received and the project looks to break ground this summer.  We believe in their message and are excited to be a part of their team.

“The benefits of being outside are undeniable. Studies show that children who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive and less anxious than those who spend more time indoors.

How is nature good for childrens’ minds?

  • It promotes creativity and imagination (unstructured play)
  • It teaches responsibility (taking care of “living things” like flowers and trees)
  • It provides stimulation (all 5 senses are engaged when outdoors)
  • It gets kids moving (you have to walk to get there, and walk to see things!)
  • It makes them think (creates a sense of wonder about earth and living things)
  • It reduces stress and fatigue (natural environments create “soft” feelings of pleasure)

Imagine increasing the time your children spend outside coupled with incorporating outdoor learning more heavily into our robust curriculum. It’s a win-win!

Old Trail School envisions creating a unique outdoor classroom to enable, promote and galvanize the use of nature in all areas of learning, while allowing students to reap the benefits of spending more time outside.

“Bring the Park in, and get the children out.”

This structure is the starting point in a new era focused on maximizing outdoor opportunities and amplifying our unique location in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The space will be intuitive and flexible, making the most of every square inch. It will be constructed of steel and wood to be strong, welcoming, natural, and provide warmth. The design will be clearly driven by sustainability, depicting multi-functional uses as an outdoor classroom as well as a gathering place for children and families.