The group that put together the April 6 Growing Green Schools event for Arlington staff, teachers, and parents interested in school gardens and nutrition programs held its first follow-up “School Garden Meetup” at Jamestown Elementary on June 8. The goal was to connect school garden enthusiasts, to share best practices and challenges, and to get inspired by touring the school grounds.
The group is planning monthly school garden meetups the first Monday of most months in 2015-2016 starting with Campbell Elementary on October 5. Anyone interested in hosting a meetup can email Growing Green Schools (at) gmail (dot) com.
Four parents from Campbell, a county-wide magnet program and Virginia’s only Expeditionary Learning school, brought their children to the inaugural Jamestown tour and joined about a dozen other attendees including a volunteer for Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN) and STEM Education and Workforce Specialist for APS and blogger with NoVA STEM Education Network Jim Egenrieder.
Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment director and APS parent Elenor Hodges introduced the event, which was led by Jamestown’s “Visiting Horticulturalist” Mary Van Dyke of Green STEM Learning and Jamestown Lead Science Teacher Christine Payack with Jamestown Principal Kenwyn Schaffner.
This year, the PTA funded Mary’s part-time position to work with teachers on getting children learning outdoors. Mary chronicles many of her activities on her Green STEM learning blog.
The courtyard had some great signs to facilitate learning for all, and creating the signs was a great experience for second graders.
Science funds were used to purchase this moveable greenhouse.
After spending a little time with the crafts and toys provided, the children had a great time making up their own games and exploring the garden. It seemed almost like proof that given the opportunity to play outside, children come into their own imaginations and become independent.