Glen Iris Elementary School encouraging students to learn in the outdoor garden

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 3:47 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The principal of Glen Iris Elementary School is encouraging all of the teachers to get students outside and into the garden for a bit of cross-pollination of learning.

For years, they have partnered with Jones Valley Teaching Farm.

Instructor Brittany Ragland pointed to the vines growing on the outside of the building, and the green fruit hanging there.

“These are scuppernongs, which are like cousins to grapes,” Ragland said.

How’s that for a vocabulary word? I’d dare to say not many adults have even heard of them, but give little fingers a chance to hold them and pop them into the children’s mouths, and it’s a memorable moment that combines their senses with core subjects.

“It gives our scholars a chance to get hands-on experience with the garden, as well as integrating the reading, the math, the science, and social studies, and they are able to not only just learn from a book, but have hands-on experience,” Principal Dr. Tronci Southall-Mason says.

Mason is betting that rich vocabulary from experiences in the garden will enhance reading and writing, which are the real foundations of learning.

Beyond that, Ragland says: “I 100 percent believe knowledge is empowerment, and once we get them knowledge, they can make better choices for themselves - as far as eating is concerned, as far as food is concerned, as far as better educating themselves is concerned.”

The principal says many of her children may not taste a lot of the fruits and vegetables in the garden at home, but this introduction will help them become more adventurous to eat more nutritious foods.

“Eating better is really a crucial piece, because that affects everything from how the neurons in your brain fire off to how you get up and move in the morning - if you are in pain,” continued Ragland.

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