Clintondale Middle School values creating an awareness and appreciation of ecological and environmental phenomena of the natural world. We endeavor to reach our students by providing hands-on experiences that encourage stewardship and wonder.
The heart of my program is hands-on plant biology in our greenhouse and on our grounds. This year we picked 4 oranges from our orange tree. We are going to re-cut and root the African violets we lost over Easter break. (Not everything survives!) We study our pomegranate blooms, pick peppers from our plants, are continually amazed by the fragrant herbs that we grow. One of our favorite past-times is soaking q-tips in alcohol and totally annihilating mealy bugs on our gardenia and ferns.We work on old broken lunchroom tables, covered with shower curtains. But who cares? We have fun. Around the end of April, each student pots tomato and pepper seedlings, and if parents agree, take them home to grow in their own yards or on patios. Our banana tree is a (7 ft.) baby. We are learning to find seeds on our geraniums and start our own plants.
We are finding that digging in the dirt is really good for emotionally challenged kids, and guess what? It is good for everyone else, too! We have learned hard lessons, too. Recently we planted 300 tulip bulbs in front of the school. When they started to pop through the ground, we were delighted. We also learned something about planning for a hostile environment when we came to school one day and found someone had flung our flowers out over the parking lot. We discussed how tempting it was to pluck those little stems and heave those little weighted bulbs all over the place. Guess we’ll plan differently from now on!
Our school is poor in $$$ but rich in enthusiasm for gardening. No one cares that we garden with my old set of kitchen spoons, and get most of our pots out of the trash. My best evaluation was a slip of paper left on my desk that said ” I wasn’t going to come to school today, but I was worried about my plants.” I guess we must be doing something right. I would be glad to attach pictures, but I am technically challenged. Contact me directly and I’ll share with you.
Sue Berger, Teacher Consultant, Green Schools Coordinator, Master Gardener Volunteer.