At a principal meeting the other day, we asked for feedback on our program and were delighted to hear what local principals and academic leaders had to say.

A good percentage of Principals have experienced a REAL School Garden as a former teacher or Assistant Principal. In addition, most Principals have heard about the outdoor classroom as a way of building academic impact.
– “I was so impressed with how teachers, students and the learning community at large were a part of the garden and I vowed to myself that when I became a Principal I would petition for a REAL School Garden on my campus.”
– “The enhancements associated with a REAL School Garden would be aesthetically beneficial, but the main purpose of such an endeavor would be to increase student academic achievement which is the most exciting goal of all!”

Principals feel that gardens can be used as an outdoor classroom.
– “Any hands on activity breeds ownership. It is one thing to be told how seeds germinate, but to see that the seed ‘I’ put in the ground grows into a large kale plant, well… that’s just cool! It will be remembered because learning has taken place through the experience.”
– “Math teachers can easily incorporate gardening into their instruction on many levels, including addition and multiplication of plants per row, taking measurements of plant growth, and predicting crop production.”
– “Gardens and nature have a long history of inspiring writers to create poetry and literature.”
– “A garden in our school will bring much awareness and exposure to the need for good nutrition and a true desire to have a first-hand experience with REAL food and plants.

Principals are prepared to put measures in place to make sure the garden is used regularly for instruction.
– Time spent in the garden will be comparable to time spent in the computer lab. It will be an integral component of our total curriculum.”
– “As a STEM campus, our teachers are constantly seeking opportunities for real world experiences that fit organically into our Project/Problem-Based Learning units.”

School leaders envision the garden being a way to engage family and community involvement.
– “The church next door to us has given us permission to sell herbs, fruits, and vegetables at their farmers market once the garden is in place.”
– “We hope to establish a partnership with Paul Quinn College to provide gardening classes free of charge for our families and community members.”
– “The garden will help create a setting that bridges meaningful teacher and parent relationships.”

Out Teach, formerly REAL School Gardens, provides professional development for elementary school teachers. Out Teach prepares them to use school gardens, outdoor classrooms, and green schoolyards to improve instruction through three-dimensional project-based learning, and outdoor experiential inquiry-based education. Professional learning with Out Teach improves hands-on science and STEM education through instructional coaching and digital education resources and improves 21st Century skills.