Mid-Year Report July 1, 2010 â€“ December 31, 2010 The past six months at REAL School Gardens (RSG) provided a lot of reasons to celebrate. Children planted, harvested and ate winter crops and neighborhood partnerships emerged and strengthened school communities. RSG energized and prepared 841 educators to teach academic concepts in gardens and REAL School Gardens educational staff directly taught 2,176 children in their learning gardens, not to mention thousands of others who were taught by their classroom teachers! We partnered with the popular recording artist Jack Johnson and held our first fundraising event in partnership with GRACE Restaurant. Friends across North-Central Texas participated in professional development, community building, garden planning, and installation events. There were young minds engaged, young imaginations sparked and young hopes raised.
REASONS TO CELEBRATE Expanded Reach 74 schools, 41,000 students, 2,600 educators Growth One new learning garden installed, 4 learning gardens revitalized and 4 learning gardens designed Media One TV spot and 15 print and web-based media appearances Service Volunteer and service learning projects with corporate and collegiate partners
Events 5 professional development sessions and 1 community building event, reaching 389 participants Partnerships Success in establishing new relationships with diverse community stakeholders including national corporations, health advocacy groups, and local community organizers
Awards Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Awarded by North American Association for Environmental Education Keep America Beautiful 2010 National Award, 2nd Place
GARDEN GOAL: Help elementary schools create, support and sustain school gardens so children connect with nature in engaging, nurturing and inspirational ways
MEASURED MILESTONES • • • •
Hosted our annual Dig In event for 6 new school partners. Enhanced 4 existing school gardens in collaboration with community partners, including Chesapeake Energy, NASCAR, Texas Motor Speedway, and Ernst & Young. Partnered with 5 schools in Grand Prairie to provide garden design support. Partnered with 1 school, Lida Hooe in Dallas ISD, to provide educational support for their thriving school garden.
STORIES OF SUCCESS Garden Enhancements Each of our four garden enhancements attracted crowds of volunteer support from school staff, students, parents and community partners. A revitalization project coordinated by REAL School Gardens in partnership with NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) drew Fort Worth Mayor, Mike Moncrief, along with 400 students and more than two dozen TMS employees to plant trees and refurbish the garden at Rosemont 6th Grade School. “Our young people look for role models and the people that are out here today obviously care about you or they wouldn’t be here. I hope that you have learned something from this project and that you continue to wake up every single morning determined to learn something.” - Mike Moncrief, Fort Worth Mayor
Schools Dig In We organized our Dig In retreat for new school partners, reaching 73 enthusiastic attendees. The event featured an expert panel of teachers, students and parents, visioning sessions, and standards-based activities to engage students in site selection and mapping. Garden Maintenance We worked closely with our partner schools to increase the learning opportunities, usability and attractiveness of the gardens. Chesapeake Energy made garden enhancements a reality at Goodman Elementary, where parents, students, Master Gardeners, and REAL School gardens staff planted trees and native perennials and laid a flagstone path. Students at Goodman Elementary plant together in their refurbished garden. (Photo credit: Matthew Rainwater) 2
GARDEN GOAL: Encourage the use of school gardens to support children’s learning of skills, processes and content while immersing them in the natural world
MEASURED MILESTONES •
RSG educators made 34 school visits, providing garden integration instruction and model teaching sessions to 686 elementary school educators, working directly with 2,176 students and impacting many more. Introduced fee-based services and served our first client, Burleson ISD. Developed our first contract for professional development with Fort Worth ISD to support 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teachers from every elementary school in the district to use schoolyards as academic resources. Lessons we develop will be included in the online science curriculum used district-wide to guide instruction. Received the 1st place Sadie Ray Graff Educational Institution Award from Keep Texas Beautiful; Sammy Wren, educator at Sallye Moore Elementary in Grand Prairie received the 2nd place Sadie Ray Graff Educator award for his work in the garden.
STORIES OF SUCCESS Garden Integration Visits and Digging for TEKS Training RSG staff educators presented “Digging for TEKS” training to 17 entire school faculties, followed by 15 full-day garden integration visits to partner schools, introducing teachers to best practices for using their garden to enhance instruction and align with state educational standards (TEKS) in all academic subjects. Teaching techniques ranged from mapping textures in the garden with 1st graders to exercising 6th graders’ math skills to determine proper amounts of organic fertilizer to be used on given areas. The Advanced Academics Specialist at LBJ Elementary commented, “Every class was so engaged when I came out to take pictures. It is wonderful to see the students so interested and thinking and learning when they are outside. I know these teachers will make better use of the garden after seeing their students learning today.”
Students at Barbara Bush Elementary harvest their winter crop 3
District-Wide Professional Development We are proud to be providing educator training for teachers from every elementary school in Fort Worth ISD this year. After eight years of partnership, our relationship continues to deepen as we provide 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade teachers with the content and skills to use their gardens and schoolyards as resources for studying soil and local ecology. “I’m not an outside person, and before today I didn’t know anything about soil. I know my teachers must have pounded it into me in elementary school, but I don’t remember it. Learning about it the way you presented it today got me excited about doing soil activities with my students. I feel like I know a lot about soil now.” -Educator, Meadowbrook Elementary School
GARDEN GOAL: Foster a cooperative spirit among schools, families and the surrounding community through involvement with school gardens
MEASURED MILESTONES • •
Engaged 6 new school partners in our strategic community design process. We drew support from a diversity of stakeholders at our Garden Design Charrettes. Of the 1,018 individuals participating, 63% percent were students and their families, 29% percent were school employees and 8% percent were community members.
STORIES OF SUCCESS Community Design Charrettes Our six new school partners participated in community design charrettes, cooperative events that engage everyone – teachers, administrators, students, families and community members – in order to ensure the future success and sustainability of the outdoor classrooms. These collaborative efforts sparked a gathering of 347 people at Holiday Heights Elementary School.
A family at Holiday Heights designs their learning garden together
GARDEN GOAL: Create a vibrant, sharing network of educators and partners who commit to putting school gardens at the heart of urban neighborhoods
MEASURED MILESTONES • • •
Attracted 147 diverse attendees and volunteers to our first REAL People community building event this year, held at Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Grand Prairie. Benefitted from 891.5 hours of support from volunteers who helped to prepare for events and enhance gardens. 6 community partners got their hands dirty, providing time, talent and treasure to support garden enhancements: Chesapeake Energy, Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR, Redenta’s Garden, Ernst & Young, and the Rotary Club of East Fort Worth. Generated 10,448 web site visits between July 1 and Dec 31, 2010 – a 3.25% percent increase in web traffic from the same period in 2009. The average time spent at our site during a visit increased almost 15%. Received media coverage through 1 television and 15 print and web-based appearances. Received a national award from Keep America Beautiful and our first international award from the North American Association for Environmental Education.
STORIES OF SUCCESS REAL People Community Events With input, participation and support from the surrounding community, school gardens – and students themselves – become the heart of urban neighborhoods. For this reason, we organize creative and engaging REAL People community building events for community members to connect with one another and share information about using school gardens for learning. In November, we brought together a total of 147 individuals at an event that highlighted the work students and teachers are doing at Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Grand Prairie ISD.
Community members enjoy student presentations and a meal in the garden. 5
Volunteer and Service-learning Projects As a result of proactive volunteer recruitment, we benefited from 891.5 volunteer hours contributed by more than 250 individuals who came from within school communities as well as from broader stakeholder groups like local businesses. In September, 17 volunteers from Ernst & Young gathered for a garden workday at Watauga Elementary to prepare for fall planting. In December, 30 volunteers from Texas Motor Speedway led the charge to enhance the garden at Rosemont 6th Grade School. Professor Brad Bell’s architecture class at the University of Texas Arlington won the 2nd place Design Research Collaborative award from HKS, Inc. for their semester-long project dedicated to designing an iconic REAL School Gardens shade structure.
Volunteers from Texas Motor Speedway’s “Speeding to Help” initiative work with students at Rosemont
Media Exposure Staking our spot in the nationwide trend toward healthier lifestyles and real-world learning helps to raise awareness for the mission and the value of our organization. In an ongoing effort to generate public attention for our programs, we work hard to spread the word – through press releases, letters and testimonies – about our program’s progress and success. As a result of these public relations efforts, we received coverage in the following print and broadcast outlets: • • • • • • •
Fox 4 News Fort Worth Star Telegram The Dallas Morning News Arlington Citizen-Journal Edible DFW magazine 360 West magazine Exchange magazine
• • • • •
North Texas E-News Associated Content Yahoo Sports How to Grow a School Garden, by Bucklin and Pringle www.TexasMotorSpeedway.com
SPRINGING FORWARD As winter comes to a close and the first buds of spring begin to appear, REAL School Gardens is encouraged by our progress in 2010 as well as by the growing recognition of our vibrant learning gardens which boost academic achievement, nurture healthy lifestyles, cultivate life skills and promote environmental stewardship. In the months ahead, we are excited to complete the installation of six new learning gardens, implement a revised training model, which includes an intensive, on-campus professional development workshop for the faculties at each of our six new school partners; and unveil the results of the first phase of our program evaluation efforts. In all that we do, we rely on strong partners who support us financially, programmatically, and with specialized expertise including evaluation methods and strategic planning. REAL School Gardens is grateful for the continuing and growing support of our community, and we are looking forward to a beautiful spring.
Students at Florence Hill Elementary take a break from a descriptive writing activity