Celebrating Good Work at Alabama's Fairfax Elementary School

A Grants in Place effort revitalizes a school's public space!

May 12, 2017 |

Left to right: Willonda Caffie, Larry Lee, author and Rural Schools Collaborative Advocate, and school principal, Frances Groover.

Willonda Caffie, an elementary teacher with Fairfax Elementary School in Alabama, was a 2016-17 Grants in Place recipient. Wiillonda, a third grade teacher, received $1,000 for her project. the School Memory Garden Preservation Project, where students restored and revamped an area into an outdoor education center with plenty of help and support from Valley, Alabama community members. We appreciate Larry Lee representing the Rural Schools Collaborative during this school visit. Check out Larry's blog on the importance of public education, Education Matters.

Thanks to Willonda for providing the following update.

I want to begin by stating that the faculty and students of Fairfax Elementary have all been rejuvenated. The courtyard transformation has totally created an atmosphere of pure happiness, while aiding in bringing out the best in each of us.

I am so thankful to the donors of the Rural Collaborative Grants Program for granting my school the opportunity to enlighten the daily happenings for the students; in regards to enhancing their chances for participating in structured outdoor free play.

Elated would be an understatement for the joy that I feel when I see the smiles upon the little ones' faces as they actively engage in the new outdoor recreational activities. The local branch of firefighters, citizens, volunteers, school faculty, alongside their spouses, as well as my mom (who traveled 60 miles one way), were very supportive and eagerly assisted with planting flowers, painting various items, building things and etc. Having the opportunity to make one child smile, means the world to me, because having positive lasting influences in the lives of children is tremendously important. I am happy to have been a part of making all the beautiful faces at Fairfax Elementary smile when they enter the courtyard. This grant allowed us to clean out 6 flowerbeds and replace them with live vibrant colored flowers including the addition of a rose garden, located directly behind the in loving memory sign (which is in remembrance of the little girl who once attended our school that passed away), an awning w/chalkboard, an in-ground hop scotch, cushioned tire seating, tic-tac-toe game, reading nook with and outdoor library, toy box (to include a ball, frisbees, jump ropes, chalk), vegetable/herb palettes, two bird houses, and a school spirit banner.

This courtyard revamping has definitely changed attitudes and provided fun opportunities for daily interactions, outside of physical education to take in air, sunlight and natural elements. This grant has proven to be a win-win situation by enhancing the garden’s appearance, alongside revamping the area into an outdoor classroom that is teaching unmeasurable life skills, as students develop a concern for nature, their school, community and the world.

Thank you for helping to make the little lights shine within the boys and girls at Fairfax!

Mrs. Caffie

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