North KC teacher’s ‘Outdoor Wonder Lab’ gets a boost with help from Phillips 66

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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Phillips 66 is fulfilling the wish lists of teachers across the Kansas City metro. The company is pumping in thousands of dollars to show its support.

One teacher in the North Kansas City School District with her ‘Outdoor Wonder Lab’ was picked as one of the winning projects. 

“Hip, hip, hooray! Yes, we are so excited,” preschool teacher Rebecca Dollins told FOX4.

Mrs. Dollins’ preschool class cannot wait to get their hands on new toys and materials.

Dollins said Oakwood Manor Elementary School secured a few grants to get them. Then, Phillips 66 funded the rest — filling about a $600 gap.

The contribution is part of Phillips 66’s Live to the Full Heroes program, which is contributing $66,000 to teacher projects across the KC area.

“Much to my husband’s chagrin,” Dollins said. “I’ve spent lots of my own money on buying things for our classroom that we need, and we may not have the money through the district for and so when somebody comes in a supports your classroom like this, especially such a big amount, it really means a lot.”

They were able to buy wooden crates and stools meant to be outdoors, as well as a four-person easel where students can paint.

These items will not stay inside. They’ll take a trip down the hallway to the outdoor learning area. 

“What do you think?!” Dollins asked the students.

They looked at the outdoor classroom and replied, “Woah!”

Although it’s just dirt right now, the outside space will become the Wonder Lab where students’ imaginations can run wild. 

“You could see their excitement just thinking about what it’s going to be,” Dollins said.

She has a passion for outdoor learning. Research shows, playing outside is great for early education. 

There will be no stress or mess with a paint brush. Dollins also plans to add musical instruments, games and play structures. 

“I feel like being outside with Beckam and Zoe,” Preschooler Makhi Roberts said.

Kids like Makhi, Beckam and Zoe will create, explore and discover the freedom to express themselves.

“There’s so much that can come from something that may seem small, but it really can have a rapid effect and a lasting effect on their lives,” Dollins said.

The Outdoor Wonder Lab is expected to be complete by April. 

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