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A group of Horace Mann students use a new outdoor classroom outside the Brown Education Hall. Northwest will celebrate the completion of the outdoor classroom on June 21. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

A group of Horace Mann students use a new outdoor classroom outside the Brown Education Hall. Northwest will celebrate the completion of the outdoor classroom on June 21. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

June 11, 2018

Northwest to dedicate outdoor classroom June 21

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Northwest Missouri State University and its Horace Mann Laboratory School will celebrate the completion of its outdoor classroom with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 21.

The outdoor classroom is located directly north of Everett W. Brown Education Hall, which houses Horace Mann and the Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families. The space is available for use by community members when it is not in use by Horace Mann students and staff.

Northwest received a $93,336 grant last year from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to assist the University with constructing the new outdoor classroom.

With the grant award, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Land and Water Conservation Fund agreed to fund half of the total project costs, and Northwest funded the remainder of the project, which totaled about $187,000.

The outdoor classroom provides a recreational space unlike any other in Maryville or the northwest Missouri region. It is designed as a next-generation space that goes beyond a single sport or activity, and it aligns with Horace Mann’s emphasis on curriculum-driven outdoor education, health and wellness, and environmental stewardship.

Centers within the classroom focus on nature art, outdoor music and messy materials. It includes a stage for creative play, a place for arts creation and integration, and a gathering space suited for outdoor class sessions. Other unique features include a climbing structure, slide, swings and a 1/10th mile walking-running path. Rain barrels, among other features, encourage sustainable stewardship of the space. Native grasses separate learning spaces and tie with the natural beauty of the Northwest campus, which also serves as the Missouri Arboretum.

All of the outdoor classroom’s features also adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring all individuals may enjoy the park.

Northwest engaged the Nature Explore company to design the outdoor classroom, which replaces equipment the University removed last year to make room for an expansion of its Frank Grube Tennis Courts as a result of the construction of the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse on the west side of the University campus.

The grant was a collaboration of School of Education Dean Dr. Tim Wall, outgoing Horace Mann Principal Sandy Seipel, Leet Center Director Cindy Rouner and Northwest Grants Coordinator Tye Parsons. Representatives of the Horace Mann Parent Advisory Council, the Regional Council of Governments, and the Maryville Parks and Recreation Department as well as Missouri Rep. Allen Andrews also submitted letters in support of the project.

Northwest previously received the grant in 2014 to partially fund the construction of an outdoor classroom that serves the Leet Center.


About Horace Mann Laboratory School

Horace Mann places an emphasis on innovative and interactive teaching practices accompanied with individualized instruction by dedicated and caring faculty as well as staff and administrators.

As a laboratory school, Horace Mann is a clinical teaching environment for students in Northwest’s School of Professional Education. The relationship between master teachers, practicum teachers and graduate assistants allows Horace Mann students to reap the benefits of low student-to-teacher ratio in classrooms that implement innovative teaching practices and provide learning experiences designed to stimulate each child's creative learning abilities and problem-solving skills.

The school employs Project Lead the Way, a project and problem-based curriculum that includes science, technology, engineering and math in an engaging, rigorous and relevant format that is innovative and builds critical thinking skills.

For more information about Horace Mann, visit or contact the school at 660.562.1233.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215