On Monday, Feb. 13, Glenn C. Marlow Elementary, Hendersonville Elementary, and Apple Valley Middle schools are receiving a total of $3,533 in NC Beautiful “Windows of Opportunity Grants,” funded locally by the Duke Energy Foundation.
With a mission of “Empowering Environmental Education,” NC Beautiful provides WOO grants of up to $1,500 to certified K-12 teachers to “help foster environmental stewardship through environmental education,” according to NC Beautiful Programs Manager Louise Carey.
Both elementary schools are using their grants to design, build and plant educational gardens at their schools, where students can read and study flora and fauna. The HES garden will feature a morning glory “teepee” to shelter early readers, and the Glenn C. Marlow garden will feature annuals provided by Van Wingerden Greenhouses (Mills River), and will be constructed using donated lumber, topsoil, plants and other materials from Builders First Source (Hendersonville), Riverside Stump Dump (Mills River), The Kinsey Family Farm (Gainesville, Ga.), and Watermark Land Services (Hendersonville).
“The gardens are themed to focus on birds, bees, and butterflies so that I can use them to teach about ecosystems,” said Geoff Kinsey, 4th grade teacher at Glenn C. Marlow Elementary. Like Kinsey, Hendersonville Elementary kindergarten teacher Kim Heery plans to have her students plant sunflowers and butterfly bushes in the HES garden, and hang feeders to attract birds.
At Apple Valley Middle, the WOO grant will provide materials for a courtyard revitalization project, featuring the work of Exceptional Children students currently learning to build raised beds and make compost for the project. The courtyard is accessed by most of the student body as they change classes throughout the day, and is in need of a facelift, said Alicia Lyda, 8th grade English teacher at Apple Valley. Flowers and vegetables will be planted in the raised beds built by EC students, and existing flowerbeds will be revitalized with perennials, butterfly bushes, and bird feeders.
All three projects will be completed by students with the help and guidance of teachers and community volunteers, ensuring the student communities take ownership of and pride in their beautification projects.
“Our students are hardworking and strive to involve themselves in our school culture,” Lyda said. “As they work in the gardens, students will practice reading and following directions, basic math, and the science behind growing and working with soil and plants.”