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Friday, September 25, 2015

Tarver-Rendon Staff Dream Big for New Discovery Park

The open field behind Tarver-Rendon Elementary School.
You can call it a field of dreams. After all, that’s what it is right now—a partially-mowed vast area of land near the back entrance of Tarver-Rendon Elementary School.

However, staff members envision that space as a getaway for children to explore the math, arts, sciences, and technological world.

They call it the Tarver-Rendon Discovery Park. The entrance of it will house a sensory garden. Then, the path will continue to lead students to different areas of the park. There will be an area for live theatre performances, butterflies gardens, plant assortments, QR codes, Legos, chess or checkers, animals from the nearby agricultural barn—the possibilities are endless.

“We’re all about outside-the-box thinking,” said Allison Adkison, the kindergarten teacher at Tarver-Rendon who came up with the idea. “The discovery park is not a normal way to teach, but that’s why we’re doing it. We look for different ways to keep kids engaged.”

Adkison said after she thought of the idea, librarian Susan Buckles and technology teacher LaDena Drake became part of her support team.

“Anywhere you go in the park, it will be a learning experience,” said Drake. “It’ll help them see that you can play outside and still have fun learning.”

(View a diagram of the park here and a video of the concept here.)

Adkison, Buckles, and Drake take a visit to the proposed park.
The visionaries hope to turn the dream into a reality through community involvement and a grant from the Mansfield ISD Education Foundation. However, they say even if they don’t win the grant, it’s still going to happen.

“We're so determined. Our community is already pulling together for it,” said Adkison. “We have a group of dads and husbands coming out to help landscape the area some more. Our Tarver-Rendon parents are going to be a big resource to us, and we want local scouts and organizations to be a part of this too.”

The ideas for the park keep evolving, and it only reiterated what these educators teach their students: dream big.