Brenda Levert, Cherise Albright, Robert Mills, and Gary Leopold
The winning program, “Community Gardens: Growing Knowledge and Compassion” was developed by Levert and her colleagues for students at the Academy for Academics and Arts. The purpose is to provide students in grades Kindergarten through eighth-grade to experience the joy of gardening with 21st century technology to enhance their learning experience. The first step of the program is to get students excited about gaining knowledge on how to maintain a thriving greenhouse. Students in the program will analyze, manage, access, integrate, evaluate, and create information in various forms and media. They will use critical-thinking skills to analyze and solve problems and develop and communicate ideas to others. Mobile technology will also help students complete the research from the greenhouse activities. Teachers will collaborate and share resources to unite core academic subjects with hands-on, age-appropriate, inquiry-based activities for the students to apply academic skills in real world experiences. The greenhouse activities will help channel the students’ energy into mastering math standards through the lens of science. The goal of the gardening program is to bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn. The fruits and vegetables grown in the greenhouse will be donated to a local community food pantry.