NEOLA Mission statement:
To provide our diverse students with outdoor experiential learning opportunities that will promote cooperation, critical thinking skills, foster self-esteem and improve community involvement with all of our stakeholders.
The North Euless Outdoor Land Area (NEOLA) project at North Euless Elementary School, due to open in August 2012, will give students in the community an opportunity to experience the elements of rural nature within the city limits. NEOLA will be a real mini forest on the school grounds.
Four years ago North Euless Elementary School Art Teacher, Scott Matula, gazed through his class window. He saw an empty, wasted space and within that space, Scott had a dream to build something that would inspire and teach students about nature. Matula leads the Wilderness Survival And Animal Tracking Club for North Euless Elementary School. He is familiar with nature and realizes that many students in the city do not have the opportunity to experience an outdoor forest scenery.
A year ago, Scott Matula, his brother, David Matula, and a committee took this vision to the school counsel. The plan was accepted as long as the project could be produced without government funding. Since last year the group has found funding from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, FACES of Change, Thomas Nezworski, HEB Foundation Grant, Mid Cities Air Conditioning, North Euless PTA, TXU Energy, the City of Euless, B 7 S Fence, Paul Smith, David Matula with Waterfalls Over Texas, and many other donations. Kim Gideon is credited with massive research on funding for this project.
NEOLA will be a living entity complete with running water, a pond, raised garden, native flora, rain water recycling, garbage composting, as well as education and lesson space, “ Matula said. “We will provide hands-on learning experiences that often focus on problem solving projects. The activities will be highly learner-centered and adapted to students’ individual skills and abilities as they explore native environments.”
North Euless Elementary Principal, Melissa Meadows, stated, “This is a community partnership, everyone working together. We couldn’t have done it without everyone. This is for the kids who need real life experiences.”
David Matula, the architect from Waterfalls Over Texas, is donating time, valued at least $20,000, on the architecture and creation of the site. He has shown different versions of the project to the committee and made changes to make sure the facility is ADA accessible for the disabled, resolved tree issues, and supervised during the project’s development.
When asked about her vision for Euless, Mayor Mary Lib Saleh stated, “Beautify Euless Everyday. Euless was the second city in Texas to be designated ‘Tree City U.S.A.’ We have had this designation for at least 20 years now.”
Lacy Lee Sperry, manager of community relations for TXU Energy, said NEOLA is part of a company initiative. “This tree donation is part of our Committed to Community Growth program which provides trees to partnering communities to promote a green and healthy environment,” she said. “Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates approximately $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.”
Heather Emory PTA President at North Euless Elementary, stated, “The PTA donated $1000 to NEOLA.” The PTA sold school supplies, catalog sales, magazine subscriptions, and Santa Shop to earn the donation money.
NEOLA is expected to be complete in the spring of 2012 and will be available to all the classes at North Euless Elementary. Scott Matula stated, “English classes will write from inspiration of what they see. Trees, rocks, and soil show history. In math, students can tabulate the growth of trees, and catch rain to calculate the amount of rain we get.”
Traci Hildreth, music teacher at North Euless Elementary, stated, “The kindergarten class will have an Earth Day performance in April.”
Other schools in the HEB Independent School District as well as other organizations can visit this site at no cost. Reservations can be made through the school office. All grants, corporate donations, parent-teacher volunteer labor, and donations for this project are greatly appreciated. Everyone who wants to volunteer or donate money to this project can call North Euless Elementary at 817-354-3505. Contact Scott Matulla.
NEOLA will become a valuable asset to the Euless community for many years to come.