Posted by: Jeanne McCarty

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I’m so excited to announce that REAL School Gardens is expanding into the Carolinas by merging with a Charlotte-based nonprofit, the Green Teacher Network.  The organization works to advance academics, health, and sustainability through school gardens and outdoor learning.  For years, CEO Edna Chirico has led a small staff and a team of dedicated volunteers to bring learning garden resources and enhancement opportunities to more than 2,000 educators at 185 schools around Charlotte, North Carolina.jeanne-headshot-ketcham

I met Edna several years ago when she was looking for partners to bring more instructional coaching to the teachers in the network.  She’d read surveys from the teachers, and a common theme was their desire for more help bringing daily lessons outdoors, and using gardens to help children succeed academically.  So Edna went on a mission to get her teachers more training.

Now, you may not have met Edna yet, (though she seems to know everyone) but let me tell you, when she puts her mind to something it gets done.  Shortly after learning about REAL School Gardens, Edna came up to meet with me and we really hit it off.  I was so impressed by what she’d achieved and everything the network supporters and partners had invested in the mission.  There’s clearly a lot of interest in getting kids the hands-on, REAL-world learning  experiences they need to succeed.  Together, we realized that we just had to find a way to work together.

So when REAL School Gardens received growth funding to expand to new regions, we knew this was our chance and decided to merge the organizations.  In this merger, Edna will become the Executive Director for REAL School Gardens’ Carolinas Region, and schools in the Green Teacher Network will begin receiving teacher training and garden building opportunities from REAL School Gardens.  REAL School Gardens will also gain the strong board Edna’s built over the years, as they’ll become the Regional Advisory Board for the Carolinas.

Later this summer, Green Teacher Network web site and social media will switch over to REAL School Gardens.

I’m really looking forward to bringing new programs and opportunities to schools in the Carolinas, and am excited that we’re taking the next step to national expansion.  We’re on a course to be in six regions and 15 markets by 2020 and we’re off to a great start!  Once we achieve that goal, we’ll be reaching 225,000 students and 15,000 teachers with our programs every day!

Thank you so much for joining us as we learn and grow.  Together, we’re going to make sure that kids get the hands-on experiential learning they need to succeed in school and in life.



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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.