Wednesday, Feb. 8, was the three-month anniversary of the death of Leonard City Councilwoman and Leonard Elementary teacher Tammy Barnes. While difficult, friends, co-workers and former students chose to honor her - on what would have been her 46th birthday - by breaking ground on the first trees planted in the Leonard ISD Outdoor Learning Classroom, a project Barnes was co-conspirator on with friend and co-worker Sheri Watson. The teachers’ dream of students learning in the area still under construction on the north side of Leonard Elementary came to fruition even before the space was completed as Barnes’ former students were instructed on the proper techniques of planting trees and got a hands-on lesson in her honor.
The Outdoor Learning Classroom was originally a creative vision of Watson, though it quickly became a tag-team project as she approached Barnes about helping her - specifically with obtaining grant money to fund it - and Barnes, as was always the case when it came to helping kids, jumped in head first without a second thought. The first funds were obtained in 2009 through First Choice Power’s Reduce Your Use Grant, which provides funds to Texas schools, chambers and non-profits who are looking to make energy-efficient upgrades, products and programs. At that point, the project was off the ground.