Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes Home Page

The Schoolyard Transformation Project

Goal:  The goal of the Schoolyard Transformation is to create a vibrant and innovative campus that models sustainability and has abundant opportunities for outdoor learning, food cultivation, creative and collaborative play, and community gatherings. 

History:  In 2008 a group of parents, at what was then Lawrence Barnes School, built and planted a few raised beds to support student learning and community events. This group of parents planted a seed at the school and the idea of continuing to transform our campus to model sustainability and support the transformation towards a sustainable school grew. In 2009-2010, Lawrence Barnes and their partner, the Sustainable Schools Project partnered with UVM students from Ecological Learning Institute (ELI) to host a series of design charettes to get input from staff, students, families and community partners.  The charettes identified outdoor learning, food cultivation, outdoor play, and community gathering as key design features.  The master plan was presented to the school in the Spring of 2010.  

In the Summer and Fall of 2010, the master plan was put on hold due to school renovations and then again in 2011 due to leadership priorities.

In 2012, we revisited the plan and again worked with a group of UVM students to gather more input and set priorities for moving the schoolyard transformation project forward.

In the Spring and Summer of 2012 we built two Outdoor Classrooms along with other natural play elements like rock and log spirals. We also refurbished our raised bed and spent time identifying who uses and has ownership over the planting and maintenance of our gardens.

In the Fall of 2012 we identified an ADA accessible trail and amphitheater as the next BIG projects to undertake. The trail and amphitheater will support numerous school initiatives like: Harvest Run, Girls on the Run, Bike for Life Program, Physical Education Standards, Center City Little League, outdoor learning and play as well as making our schoolyard accessible to all learners and community members. The trail and amphitheater also complete our transformation work in the back of the school and will allow us to focus on building a Natural Playground and ADA Accessible Treehouse in the front of our school.

Other smaller projects will be completed throughout the year in partnership with classrooms and community members at our Community Work Days held in the Fall and Spring.


Partnerships:  The Schoolyard Transformation project is supported by many community members, organizations and businesses. Key partners for this work are: UVM, Shelburne Farms, 7th Generation, Timber and Stone, Queen City Quarry, Bonnie Acker, Chris Sharp, Friends of Burlington Gardens, ReSource VT, and SA PTO and families.


Other Sponsors include: City Market, American Flatbread, Farmhouse Group, First Unitarian Universalist Society, and LOWE's.

Donations are always welcome!