This is the first appreciation post in a series of appreciation posts.
A couple weeks ago, I led some of my fifth graders in an indoor planting extravaganza. A week later, Mrs. McGrew (the teacher) gave those same students free range to choose a seed and plant it. The kiddos have been in complete charge of their seedlings — determining their proximity to light, how often they’re watered, everything.
As the days go by, the students observe the growth of their plant babies and adapt their green thumb methods.
This group of pots (pictured) has been hit and miss. One seed sprouted into this tall beauty you can see glowing beneath the light. The others dried out.
In the coming weeks, we are going to analyze growth rates with charts and graphs.
The best part? The free range experiments weren’t my idea. They were Mrs. McGrew’s. I just gave the initial indoor planting tutorial.
Farm to school is possible because of innovative thinkers like Betty McGrew who brings experts into her class to share what she cannot, who jumps in eagerly to co-teach a garden lesson on planting garlic, and who encourages her students to grow something (anything, any way they want), as long as they monitor the process and the progress.
Betty told me something during one of our curriculum planning meetings that really resonated with me:
“I’m here to teach them to learn how to learn.”
I believe farm to school shares this philosophy. Children must be given space to spread their roots (and their wings). Like gardening, learning is a skill acquired through trial and error, practice and perseverance. Rarely are green thumbs just born.
Mrs. McGrew knows this. The students in her class are flourishing. Every time I interact with them I am amazed by their intellect and wit. Interlochen Community School is a haven for these students, and I am thrilled that I have the chance to watch them thrive.