Visitors of the Coffee County Lannom Library will soon enjoy an outdoor classroom, thanks to Eian Russell, sophomore at Tullahoma High School.

The classroom, located behind the library – between the building and the new Greenway Story Book Trail – will soon welcome young learners.

In addition to providing space for various activities at the library, the outdoor area will be used for the summer reading program, set to begin May 21.

Eian decided to build the outdoor classroom as his Eagle Scout project.

He began working on it in February and expects the classroom to be completed in a couple of weeks.

“We built this outdoor classroom for the library,” Eian said.

Eian said his father, Lyle Russell, inspired him to embark on this endeavor. Russell, who is a Scoutmaster, also serves as program manager at Tullahoma Parks and Recreation Department.

“My dad gave me the idea,” Eian said. “I was asking what I could do for my Eagle Scout project, and my dad mentioned that the library was looking to do an outdoor classroom. And the idea developed from there.”

The classroom just needs a few finishing touches before it welcomes learners.

“We have two or three more things to do and we will be finished with the project,” Eian said. “We need to put our sign up for our outdoor classroom. We also need to install the podium up at the front, and we need to fix some issues with the rebar.”

Then, the area will be ready for use.

“Once it’s finished, we are going to have a podium for people to speak from,” Eian said. “When children are doing story time activities, they can come out here for fresh air as opposed to staying inside all of the time.”

While Eian was the leader of the venture, completing the accomplishment took a team. 

“I did have a lot of help with this,” Eian said. “I got help from the other people in my Boy Scout group. And my dad, who is a Scoutmaster, helped us out quite a bit.”

The outdoor room blends well with the surrounding nature.

“The classroom is in an area bordered with landscaping timbers and filled in with mulch,” Eian said. “We have some smaller logs that are pieces of scrapped telephone poles from LightTube, so they were very cheap and we just had to cut them ourselves. We just put them into the ground with some rebar spikes.”

The outdoor learning space is also equipped with additional seating.

“We installed some benches in the back for parents to sit and watch,” Eian said, adding he used some recycled plastic for the benches.

Working on the project has been very rewarding, said Eian.

“I come to the library quite a bit, so I figured any project I can do to help them out would be definitely a personal thing for me,” he said.

 

Summer reading kickoff

Leslie Warren, youth services program director at the Coffee County Lannom Library, is looking forward to utilizing the outdoor classroom.

“I love it and I can’t wait,” Warren said. “We love being outside during story time and we love doing projects outside, so this will be perfect. Our summer reading kickoff is May 21.”

The ribbon cutting for the Greenway Story Book Trail and for the outdoor classroom is set for that day, as well.  

The summer reading program has a different theme each year. The initiative aims to motivate young readers to delve into various subjects.

The theme of this year’s summer reading is “A Universe of Stories.”

“The summer reading program is a way for us to help children keep reading over the summer,” Warren said. “They are not in school during the summer, so we don’t want that gap to affect their education. We do it in a way that is fun and it’s free for everybody.”

The summer reading programs are designed to encourage elementary-aged children to continue reading during summer vacation.

The main goal of the initiative is to keep young learners engaged with enriching activities throughout the summer.

For many families with elementary-aged children, the public library is the only community space available during the summer months where they can access free educational and cultural enrichment activities and programs, according to Collaborative Summer Reading Program’s website. And the outdoor classroom will now enhance that learning space.

Children further their sense of discovery through resources offered at the library.

With the various interactive activities held at the library as part of the program, children have access to experiences through which they learn to work together, according to Warren.

For more information about the summer reading program and other initiatives at the library, visit www.lannom.org or the library’s Facebook page.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.