March 18, just two days before the official start of spring, Indian Creek Elementary School families, teachers, interpreters, and CDF staff gathered at the school for a special meeting and work day, to take part in the launch of a new Education Science Garden.
At CDF’s 2016 Community Trust meetings last fall, the garden was chosen by the school community as a project to receive funding from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, though CDF’s “Clarkston Families Decide.”
Approximately thirty families—speaking ten different languages and bringing with them nearly 45 children—discussed how learning about and work in the garden will provide an exciting opportunity for students – kindergarten through fifth grade – to learn about science.
As families waited for others to arrive, the youngest children began working on arts and crafts, while their older siblings and parents discussed their gardening experiences with others in their language group. In the Burmese group, a mother told of her love of gardening, her disappointment about not being allowed to plant in her apartment complex, and her hopefulness over the possibility of connecting with the garden at her children’s school. In the Karen-speaking group, another woman explained that she came to the event because she loves this school and the way it instills in her son an eagerness to learn. “He runs around every morning, asking if I am ready to walk him to school. He likes it so much!” she shared with a laugh.
Lunch was a special treat, as families enjoyed rice, hummus, samosas and other dishes from an Iraqi restaurant. Door prizes were plants that the families could take home and plant in their garden —- or enjoy in their homes.
Soon the program was underway, as the teachers who started the Education Science Garden gave a presentation about what children would be learning in class in relation to the garden in every grade. From vegetables and worms to ecosystems and erosion, the teachers – using the school system’s science standards – incorporated the garden curriculum for every age group. They also shared the variety of ways families could be involved in designing, planting, and taking care of the garden.
The morning concluded with a tour of the garden. Parents were quick to ask questions and share their ideas. Again and again, the words “in my country” could be heard, as individuals spoke of the gardening practices that they knew the best. The teachers were excited to hear their ideas, encouraging everyone to come and share their knowledge and experience. After all, it is this sort of family engagement that is sure to help the Indian Creek Elementary garden—and students—grow and thrive!