On the last day of April, 2015, the PTA at M.W. Downing elementary school held a sale of flower plants in the garden adjacent to the school. The plants were beautiful and were going fast. Soon we had to go to the local store, Cross Island Fruits, to purchase some more. The classes were coming in predetermined order and parents were helping kids select the right plant for their money.
The plants were arranged on the enormous concrete slab that was recently built. Beyond the slab, it was a wilderness. Despite being late into the spring season, the garden didn’t show signs of love. Abundant weeds were covering flower beds, overgrown grass was everywhere. (Photos taken on May 13th, 2015).
I made an appointment with Mrs. McDaid, the building principal, to get a detailed information about the state of the garden. Many circumstances prevented the cultivation to begin. The sprinklers were broken. Branches fell of the tree. She waited for the initial impulse to come from the “central administration,” as they had to allocate the time for the grounds crew to mow the lawn and clear the garden from debris after the winter. It didn’t happen as of April 30th. The school staff also needed a guidance in terms of know-how and to plan for time with students. The case represents a prime example of demise of control that is required from the public school owners. Instead the owners rely solely on the initiatives of the hired management. As the result, students came short.
Examples from schools where parents share responsibilities in educating their kids show that parents take initiative in researching possibilities how to introduce plethora of other activities as well, e.g. foreign languages, cooking, sewing, woodworking, etc. Researching brings like-minded individuals together. They form shared decision teams to figure out how to implement their findings into the curriculum. Malverne students are in need of a nature person. They also need owners who fulfill their part of responsibilities.
Some ideas on gardening at school:
M.W. Downing elementary school garden in May, 2015