10 Country: Life learning Garden - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Life learning Garden

June 3, 2003

Sylvester, GA-- Many people believe public schools should teach more than reading, writing and math. They need to teach personal values, something young people should learn at home, but often don’t.

Hakeem Slade reads from his journal on the last day of school in an educational Garden of Eden with his classmates, where magnifying glasses were standard equipment.

“That is from that book we had in the classroom. Remember? ”asks science teacher Diane Shaw. A caterpillar destined for a bigger and higher flying life as a Swallowtail butterfly that could live in their environmental garden at Worth County Primary School.

The students learn from animals and plants what many believe they should learn at home. “All these bugs and birds and caterpillars have a purpose,” says Garden Chairman Mary Beth Cary.

Besides that, the garden helps them learn tolerance. “Just because we don’t like it or understand it, doesn’t mean we should eliminate something,” said Ms. Shaw.

Something as common as a worm-like creature called a slug that created an instant teachable moment. “He feels slimy!” exclaimed student Brittany Washington.

The teachers felt their kindergarten, first and second graders needed to learn about the real world and real science where bees became teaching aids. “They work just about their whole lives. Eight weeks they last, and they die.”

They looked underground to see if a peanut plant has produced more peanuts.  The garden started in 1995 with a huge problem. The ground was so bad it wouldn’t grow weeds.

“It’s become an obsession now,” says Cary. To the point of being named as the best school garden in the country, with life changing results for the kids.

“Hopefully, as they get older, this will go on to people and the way they treat everything that’s alive," Cary said.

The young students helped plan and build their garden, offering a suggestion that it needed music-- their own kind of music, and it happened.

Young people learn valuable lessons of the world at an early age in a garden of learning, and that’s music to their teachers’ ears.

Garden organizers credit the Worth County board of education, staff, parents, students and the community for making it happen.

posted at 9:00AM by dave.miller@walb.com