What’s Right with Our Schools: Nolan Elementary


SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN (WDEF) – When the weather is nice, having class outside is a real treat. In the age of Covid, it’s also a sensible thing to do. Nolan Elementary’s outside classrooms are a fresh example of “What’s Right With Our Schools”.

Dr. Ashley Aldridge Wilson is the Principal at Nolan.

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She says, “The outdoor classrooms have been such a wonderful addition to Nolan, this year. It came out of an idea, ‘How can we provide some space for our kids to take mask breaks and get outside during Covid?’ So we had over 40 volunteers come. A local church, the Port Church came and really rallied the community. They divided and conquered and built 7 outdoor learning spaces. One for Related Arts and one for each grade level, and the teachers take turns bringing the children outside. We had grandparents involved. This was really a multi generational project. We had kids, rolling stumps. In every outdoor classroom we have stumps for the kids to sit on. And then we had a grandparent build a whiteboard, so we can actually have a learning space.

Third grade teacher Becky Leary adds, “I think it says a lot about our school community, where parents and people, within the community, came together to build this for our kids. I think it really opens the kids’ perspective of learning. It’s a different environment than just sitting in a classroom.


Third grader Cloe Schuvert agrees.


She says, “The outdoor classroom is a great place for learning, especially because it gives us a lot of air to breathe and not just be sitting inside.

Fellow third grader Andrew Aldridge chips in, “I like it because it gives me a break from wearing a mask, because of this Covid that’s been going around, and I can have a nice breeze blow on me and not just be sitting around in a classroom.

Principal Aldridge Wilson concludes, “It was a wonderful project, and we are so grateful for the way that the community has rallied to keep schools open, and just make the learning really engaging for the kids during a time when we have to wear a mask all the time.”


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Andrew Harrison is happy to be back home! He grew up in Chattanooga and is a proud graduate of East Brainerd Elementary and McCallie School. He is a longtime member of St. Martin's Episcopal Church. Andrew started as a studio camera operator at WTVC in Chattanooga, and has 25 years of experience in television. He's worked as photographer, producer, reporter and anchor. Andrew spent the last 20 years in Mississippi, the last 7 anchoring the morning news in Jackson. It's a dynamic market, with no shortage of news, but Andrew is a Tennessean at heart. He's won numerous AP awards for reporting, including Best Franchise for Large Market Mississippi Stations. He was voted the Mississippi Delta's Favorite News Personality. (in 2008) Andrew is a devoted husband and father of two. His wife, Tonya is also from Tennessee. He's a big Titans, Grizzlies and Predators fan, and when it comes to baseball, the Braves will always be number one. You can e-mail him at aharrison@wdef.com.