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Moore Central Junior High School's outdoor science classroom engages students

Moore Public Schools teacher Dan “Mr. O” O'Halloran, who created an outdoor classroom, is retiring, and the classroom was recently named in his honor
BY CHRIS SCHUTZ Published: May 1, 2012

“Mr. O! The crawdad's molting!”

Central Junior High School's outdoor classroom had worked its magic on yet another student.

The boy's classmates rushed over to ask him about what he had found in the pond of the outdoor classroom — the O.C. for short.

The youth, who had never shown much interest in school, “puffed up like a rooster,” science teacher Dan “Mr. O” O'Halloran said.

“That kid had a good day at school. He didn't have many.”

O'Halloran is retiring this year after 24 years of teaching. He says he will treasure his memories of helping develop the O.C. and using it to teach about nature.

“This has been my best experience as a teacher,” he said.

This year, the space was designated The O'Halloran Classroom at a retirement party in his honor.

When he arrived at Central in the Moore School District 16 years ago, O'Halloran noticed the unused courtyard and told Principal David Peak, “This is an outdoor classroom waiting to happen.”

He set to work creating a pond and stocking it with small fish. Over the years, plants and trees have been added — some by humans and some by Mother Nature.

The leafy 42- by 108-foot enclave is visited by several species of birds, which mate and hatch families there. Butterflies flutter around colorful flowering plants.

“If you provide cover, food and water, the animals come,” he said.

Hidden beneath the leaves are garter snakes and lizards, some of which were contributed by students.

A couple of box turtles wander across the sidewalk. O'Halloran drops them some earthworms, which they eat like pieces of spaghetti.

Lessons from nature

The classroom gives students a window on nature.

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