Matthew Maury’s New Playground will Spur Student Success

What started as a 2014 project for us, Maury Playground is officially open for the Matthew Maury Elementary School and community!

Landscape Architects, Gabriela Cañamar Clark and Susan England, had the pleasure of attending the balloon-filled ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, April 21. In between rain storms, students helped cut the ribbon along with Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley, and all were very excited and grateful to be seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. Sean Haviland, landscape designer, was unable to attend the ribbon-cutting, but also played a key role in the design.

This project was a measure of true collaboration amongst the City, School Board and local community. Though a public school, all the design fees and a large portion of the construction budget came through donations and the tireless efforts of parents, teachers and school staff, volunteers, community members, and even the students who organized lemonade stands. Maury Elementary has a strong academic learning environment, with a commitment to making sure everything they do leads back to the students’ success. The playground contributes to this goal, allowing the relationship between academic success and student’s social and physical development to intertwine as they learn to create relationships.


LandDesign provided landscape architectural services, ensuring the original vision was taken through the City of Alexandria approval process. A detailed design was provided through implementation of a full program: multipurpose turf field and court, play space, bio-retention facilities, and the learning garden which includes an amphitheater, pathways lined by vegetable and flower beds.

The learning garden is the first REAL School Garden endeavor in Virginia. REAL School Gardens is now a collaborative partner of LandDesign with more opportunities to change children’s lives for the better. The program allowed for parents, students and Maury staff to review the garden designs, making sure it is tailored to the school’s unique needs. REAL School Gardens works closely with teachers, training them in ways to integrate outside learning into their classrooms, ensuring students are able to engage.

The learning garden will help every student at Matthew Maury Elementary School succeed academically by creating a strong foundation for learning in Math, Science and Language Arts in ways they will remember, relate to and be able to apply long term. Kids learn best when they are learning in ways that are real, stimulating and hands-on,” said Jeanne McCarty, Chief Executive Officer of REAL School Gardens.