School garden promotes leadership

“The students in our program were so excited to have the opportunity to lead their own project. They worked together in core classes to research, plan, design and budget for the school garden.”

Second Chance students get experience using power tools, under supervision, while building raised garden beds for the school garden. OASD photo

Teacher Ivy Jeskie knows her students. Getting them out of the classroom and letting them get their hands provides lesson far beyond text books and lectures.

“Our students are not exposed to industrial technology classes and this project gave them the opportunity to step out of the classroom and use tools they would not normally get to use in school,” says Jeskie, a teacher a Second Chance, an alternative education program within the Oshkosh Area School District.

The School Garden project provides at-risk, special education students in grades six through 12 an opportunity to build what may become a lifelong interest in gardening as they create one, literally, from the ground up. The garden is providing students the opportunity to explore the subjects of biology, geometry, consumer finance, wood working and culinary arts.

The project is one of 16 that were recognized with Celebrate Education grants last year. The annual event, set to take place on Monday, March 21, 2016 (RSVP here by March 17), includes grant and teaching excellence awards, as well as honors other leaders and volunteers who have made a significant contribution to education in Oshkosh. It’s conveniently held immediately before and adjacent to the annual State of the City event at the Oshkosh Convention Center.

Jeskie says the School Garden is a fun way to help the students work as a team and accomplish something they can be proud of. “We have two junior boys who avoid school work and have negative attitudes in the classroom,” she says. “The garden allowed them to become active, get their hands dirty, share their visions and become leaders to their fellow classmates.”

Because of the School Garden project’s success, Jeskie plans to collaborate with nonprofit garden organization Growing Oshkosh to build more raised garden beds and create a self-sustaining watering system.

Celebrate Education is supported by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation in partnership with the Mid-Morning Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Wisconsin Public Service Foundation, Oshkosh Area School District and the UWO College of Education and Human Services.

For more information, please call 920-426-3993.

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