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Posted October 2, 2014

APS Teachers Get Hands-On With Garden-Based Curriculum Workshop

Teachers learn basic gardening skills.

More than fifty teachers from across the district got their hands dirty while learning to garden at an all-day workshop, Saturday, Sept. 27 at East San Jose ES.

"School-based gardens provide a hands-on laboratory for our students,” remarked Jeanne Forrester, APS Student Wellness manager.  “Our students are learning life skills, patience, conservation, observation, and thinking skills while gaining an appreciation and awareness of the natural world.”

Saturday’s workshop, hosted by the APS Growing Gardens Team, was coordinated in-part by Life Lab, a nonprofit organization based out of California that is leading the national garden-based learning movement. Funding for the workshop was provided by Presbyterian Healthcare Services and the McCune Foundation, and provided local experts to facilitate the workshop including NMSU Extension Master Gardeners, Master Composters, Horticultural Agents and teachers themselves.

“We have been working with the district to identify ways to that gardens can serve as better academic tools ,” said Natalie Donnelly, Albuquerque Public Schools’ Garden Coordinator. “We surveyed our school garden contacts and wellness leads about how we could better serve them, and based Saturday's workshop around their top three needs: basic gardening skills, outdoor classroom management, and garden-based curriculum design."

This unique, hands-on learning opportunity provided teachers time to learn while networking with other teachers and local experts to share outdoor classroom best practices. Each workshop participant received a copy of “The Growing Classroom” book, which provides classroom activities cross-mapped with Common Core Standards to help utilize school gardens as outdoor classrooms. 

“Students learn and retain more information from working in the garden than from indoor classroom work alone,” said Brie Montano, a Growing Gardens Team volunteer from John Adams MS, who attended Saturday's training.

“New Mexico has so much culture tied directly to the land, and garden-based learning provides a connection to that both inside and outside of the traditional classroom” said Donnelly, whose position at APS is provided through a district partnership with FoodCorps, an extension of AmeriCorps.

For more information on the APS Growing Gardens Team and their efforts throughout the district, please visit: http://www.aps.edu/coordinated-school-health/wellness/growing-gardens

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