Outdoor classroom earns teacher a statewide honor

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BAILEY — Lisa Langley, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Bailey Elementary School, has been named the state’s elementary conservation education teacher of the year.

Langley received the award during the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ annual meeting Jan. 8, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools announced in a Monday news release.

She was recognized for her efforts in starting an outdoor classroom at Bailey Elementary in April 2017 that allows students to grow their own food and learn about conservation.

“I am a firm believer that children need to start at an early age understanding the importance of caring for our soil and water for their own future,” Langley said in the release. “The payoff is truly seen when students harvest their crops. They enjoy eating the fruits of their labor.”

Langley secured a $2,400 Duke Energy Foundation grant administered by the Nash County Soil and Water Conservation District to grow the outdoor classroom, which is used by numerous Bailey Elementary classes.

Watching seeds sprout into fresh vegetables has helped students learn about agriculture and nutrition, Langley told the Times last April.

“Our county and our state are deeply rooted in agriculture and so many of the families we have here, their families farm or work in some aspect of agriculture,” said Langley. “A lot of children don’t understand where food comes from. They think that we just go to the grocery store to get it, but they don’t understand the process.”

School system officials said Langley also is instrumental in organizing Bailey Elementary’s annual STEM Day, which allows students to rotate through 10 learning stations to participate in activities that incorporate science, technology, education and math.