The new Amy Wise Children's Creative Learning Center at Butler County Community College merges the outdoors with the indoors to create a modern preschool and child day care facility.
The center opened last week for the start of the spring semester in the former college bookstore that was enlarged and renovated with a $1 million donation from John L. Wise III and family and a $1 million state capital grant match.
Wise, vice president and secretary of Eagle Printing, made the donation on behalf of his late sister Amy Wise.
“We wanted to bridge the indoors and the outdoors in this space,” said Judy Zuzack, the center director who had input into the facility's design.
Amy Wise had a passion for early childhood education and a talent for instilling a love of nature in young students.
She was the head teacher at Poker Hill School in Underhill, Vt. from 1994 to 2012 and taught at Community College of Vermont and Trinity College. She was awarded the Vermont Governor's Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2006.
A barn door separates the two classrooms and large windows allow children to view the picturesque campus landscape from inside the center.
Rocks, plants, clear acrylic panels embedded with twigs and branches and blue and white material struck across the 18-foot-high ceiling to simulate clouds help create an airy, outdoors atmosphere.
Partially funded by an Alcoa Foundation grant, the outdoor classroom has been certified as a Nature Explore Classroom from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation. The certification has to be renewed every year, Zuzack said.
To learn more about the innovative Amy Wise Children's Creative Learning Center, read Sunday's Butler Eagle.