Crowley ISD Connections Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 9

“I have also had the great pleasure to see my colleagues working out in the garden with their students at every grade at Oakmont,” said Ayuso, who spearheaded the effort to bring the garden to Oakmont. “Seeing the students and their teachers working in the garden made me feel like every ounce of hard work invested in the installation of the garden for close to three years was well worth it.” REAL School Gardens began about 15 years ago in Fort Worth. The organization has installed more than 150 projects, trained more than 5,000 teachers and served and connected with at least 80,000 students, Freeman said. “We don’t just put in this garden and leave,” she said. “We will assign one of our master science instructional coaches to come and work with a team of teachers here on campus.” Teachers receive professional development for two years to learn to use the garden to teach in innovative and experiential ways. Freeman said some of their partner schools have seen an increase in passing rates on standardized tests in math and science. “We know our program works, and we are very excited to be, for the first time, here in Crowley ISD,” she said. Oakmont students were grateful for the volunteers who transformed an empty area behind the school into a beautiful outdoor learning space. “I feel very thankful and happy because I see they care for the students and they care for nature,” said fourth- grader Karyme Ortiz, who was excited about the insects the garden will bring. “It’s great because we get to learn about different creatures — butterflies and bugs, and we get to go outside and smell the fresh air,” she said. Ayuso said Oakmont serves students from nearly two dozen apartment complexes and not experienced working in a garden. “(The idea) really just came from a place of wanting to give my students the best opportunity that they could have to learn the most they could learn,” she said. “We have a large population of students who don’t have these experiences. Giving them this experiential background will help them hopefully become good stewards of their planet.” BY THE NUMBERS 26 tons of soil, sand and stone 117 plants, herbs and trees 2,105 square feet of concrete and flagstone paving 40 feet of fencing 615 square feet of vegetable, herb and wildflower Students have the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature and science in the garden and outdoor learning classroom. More than 100 volunteers put in a full day’s work to construct the garden during the “Big Dig” day in April. Check out the new Automotive Technology program on the Crowley ISD YouTube Channel. 14 CROWLEY ISD CONNECTIONS | Fall 2016