During the pandemic, Green Magnet Academy Principal Jessica Holman expressed a need she saw for her school: a revitalized outdoor space that would match and support the high-quality STEAM education happening inside the classroom.
South-Doyle High graduate and The Boyd Foundation co-founder Randy Boyd jumped at the chance to support this endeavor.
“We believe that health and play are incredibly important parts of a child’s education,” Boyd said. “We saw this as an opportunity to help make a difference in a school with the greatest need.”
The foundation generously donated $650,000 to support the project, a gift made in coordination with Knox Education Foundation.
“I was blown away with the sheer generosity and genuine desire to help our school and community that he and his foundation had,” Holman said.
When it came time to plan the space, the principal turned to the school community for input. Focus groups allowed students and stakeholders to give their voices to the design.
The result was a beautiful three-quarter acre space with a play structure, swing sets, a full basketball court, a soccer field with full-sized goals, two running lanes, outdoor musical instruments, raised garden beds, and a shaded seating area.
“I’m hopeful it’s the best playground in the county and maybe the state. These kids deserve it,” Boyd said. “I don’t know what part of the playground the children will like the most, but I’m excited for them to go and watch them choose for themselves.”
Holman’s favorite feature is not the play equipment, but the mural.
“The detail of how the artist had woven in those STEAM elements into the illustrations and depictions of students that actually look like our students,” she said. “He was able to capture that sense of wonder and discovery that our students see every day in our classrooms having that STEAM-integrated learning.”
The mural paints such a realistic picture of the student body that a girl approached the artist during recess one day and asked, “Are you painting me? That looks like me.”
“That’s exactly what I want the kids to feel like and to know that they were the inspiration behind this,” Holman said.