Funded Project Update – Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary
Back in 2019, Plant a Seed & See What Grows announced that through our support the Surrey School District was to introduce four new school gardens. One of the schools was École Woodward Hill Elementary. We followed up that announcement in 2020, naming Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary among a list of programs that helped the Foundation reach more than 115,000 students across Canada. Now that we’re winding down the first quarter of 2022, we thought it would be a good time to share feedback that we have received from Bronwen Howden, the Vice Principal of Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary. In doing so, we hope to show current and future supporters of our programs that teaching the next generation about gardening is truly the path to building a sustainable future.
How a School Garden Fosters a Sense of Community and Sustainability at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary in Surrey BC
School Garden Project Goals
Our Foundation asked the elementary school what their objectives were for the garden program, which aligned with what we typically see from partner schools across Canada. These stated goals include the following:
- To build community.
- To create learning opportunities connected to the land.
- To support learning across the curriculum, including Science Big Ideas (living things) and Math (data & graphing).
School Garden Stakeholders
While anyone who lives near and passes by the school enjoys the sight of the garden, Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary has stated that the primary and secondary beneficiaries of the program include the following:
- Grade 4-7 students (primary stakeholders).
- Teachers, administrators, parents, and volunteers (secondary stakeholders).
Feedback from Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary’s VP
Vice Principal Bronwen Howden was happy to share feedback from a recently submitted Evaluation Report provided by the Foundation.
Howden stated that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the school was able to accomplish some of its key objectives. For instance, a number of students have learned to plant tulips which are an excellent means for attracting pollinators which are necessary to growing food. She identified how the garden helped (and continues to help) the school achieve other learning objectives for students that were directly involved.
In regards to Science, Howden noted the following:
“Our two classes discussed the needs of living things and how they sense and respond to their environment.”
For Math, she credited the garden for the following:
“We will be taking weekly photos of our garden to display on a bulletin board. We will also be measuring the height of our tulips and recording that on a bar graph and a line graph so that students can see the growth represented in different ways.”
In a more general sense, the program has opened students up to a new way of doing things, together:
“Collaboration has allowed us to share and then fine-tune our ideas, divide tasks, and set deadlines – great modeling for our students!”
What’s Next for Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary’s School Garden?
The Vice Principal also named unexpected and unintended learning outcomes from the program. As it turns out, the garden directly connects to the Seven Sacred Teachings and First Peoples Principals of Learning, which state”
- Learning involves the role of indigenous knowledge.
- Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential and relational, focusing on connectedness, reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place.
This connection has guided the way for an exciting new initiative. Having secured additional funding, the school’s garden committee and its First Peoples committee now plan to create a medicine garden. The “medicine wheel” will feature local BC plants and healing plants such as sage and echinacea. We love this idea, as it shows that a school garden can do more than provide nutritional sustenance. It can also help heal and prevent a number of ailments. Kudos to Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary for taking full advantage of the opportunity!
We look forward to future updates from Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary and all of the other Canadian schools that are benefiting from our funded school gardens. If you would like to learn more about how you can help support these worthy programs, click here.