What began as individual passion projects grew when learners with similar interests were encouraged to work together. Their research and brainstorming resulted in the construction of a new outdoor learning lab that includes a pergola that functions as an outdoor classroom and four raised bed gardens where learners will grow herbs, vegetables and flowers. The learners who led the project held a ribbon cutting ceremony at their Celebration of Learning on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.
The project was supported by a $3,500 grant from United Way of Monroe/Lenawee Counties, Community Learning Connections, Lowe’s, Sherwin Williams, ARAMARK, F & S Landscape, area master gardeners, and the TPS Facilities and Maintenance Department.
Tierney Czartoski, Tecumseh East learning facilitator, guided learners through the process to research, plan, and construct the Learning Garden.
“I saw so many learners that I have never seen work together, work together. I saw kids step up to leadership positions and grab the instructions and take the lead,” Czartoski said. “I saw learners that didn’t know the difference between a nut and a bolt, step outside their comfort zone and use power tools. It was awesome to see.”
Learners will continue to tend the garden throughout the summer months, and are working to develop a volunteer schedule for weeding and watering.
Additionally, Shawn Peacock plans to contribute to the Learning Garden through his passion, solar energy. He plans to fit the pergola with solar panels to provide a charging station for learners’ Chromebooks.
“My project is all about solar panels. I thought they could be used to charge electronics out here, because we are going to be doing classes out here,” he said. “I thought solar panels because they are more efficient than wind turbines.”
Sixth-grade learners from Compass Learning Center, broke ground on their own garden this year, and Ms. Czartoski is excited for them to bring their knowledge and excitement to East Learning Center to continue expanding the new space.
“Next year there’s going to be gardening class, a nature class, which will be pretty cool,” she said. “Plus we’re looking at additional partnerships to make the space even bigger. There’s also talk about ‘what do we do once the vegetables are grown?’ So we want to set up a marketing class to either sell the produce at a farmers market, or donate it to a food bank.”