Posted by: Alison Risso
Friday, May 12, 2017

REAL School Gardens’ Carolinas Region Adds Three New Board Members

REAL School Gardens is a national nonprofit that trains teachers to use school gardens to boost academics.  The organization also provides companies with a fun and turn-key way for their employees to build learning gardens in low-income elementary schools.


REAL School Gardens launched the Carolinas Region in July of 2016, and established a regional advisory board to help grow and steer the new region.  Recently, three new members joined the board.


  • Melia Gordon has spent almost two decades in public service in the areas of human resources, budgeting and program/performance evaluation.  She currently holds the role as a Budget and Financial Manager with the City of Charlotte, where she has worked since 2007.  Her community focus is to partner with nonprofits that address domestic violence, literacy, hunger, and housing issues.  Melia holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and has a Masters of Public Administration from University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  • Heidi Team is the Chief Business Development Officer at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick’s Charlotte office. Prior to Shumaker, Heidi was a Client Relationship Executive with CohnReznick, a national accounting firm, where she led business development and marketing activities for the firm’s largest industry practice within the South Central region.  Heidi is an active Charlotte Chamber Board of Advisors member, served on the Board of CREW Charlotte from 2011-2015, is an XTREME Hike participant (Cystic Fibrosis) and a fitness enthusiast.
  • Jake House is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Community 1st Advisors (C1A), a leading association management company.  Prior to C1A, House spent six years in urban public education reform, first with Pittsburgh Public Schools. House then became the ED of the nonprofit Citizen Schools’ North Carolina chapter.  House holds a MBA from the University of Michigan (Ross), a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from the Broad Center for Urban Education and a BS in marketing from the University of Maryland.

REAL School Gardens has a four-year goal to train teachers and build learning gardens at 70 Title I schools in the Carolinas.  By 2020, in North and South Carolina, 2,345 teachers will be trained to give 47,810 students the experiential hands-on lessons they need to get excited about learning every day.



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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.