This summer 12 teachers, from 5 MMSD schools, took part in the GROW Pilot Summer Institute at Troy Gardens. Funded by the Madison Community Foundation and facilitated by Community GroundWork’s Nathan Larson and Beth Hanna, and MMSD’s Nicole Nelson, the Institute provided professional development on outdoor and garden-based learning.
While listening to children work in the gardens and birds chirp overhead, teachers were able to collaborate on garden-based curricula development and brainstorm ideas to make outdoor classrooms more accessible to all students and staff members. A field trip to the Goodman Youth Farm, and to the gardens at Glendale, Lapham, and Sherman inspired the participants to consider new design ideas for expanding their own schools’ outdoor classrooms.
Guest presenters included Anne Forbes, who led a “Phenology Wheel” workshop, and Sam Dennis, a UW-Madison professor of landscape architecture and expert on nature play and children’s built environments. One participant remarked, “Troy Gardens has inspired me to be a more holistic person – I WANT TO SING SONGS IN MY CLASSROOM! And move, dig in the dirt, lie on the ground, harvest food and cook it, plant things, talk about nature and experience it!” Another stated, “To collaborate and dream, problem-solve and reflect with energized colleagues in a gorgeous outdoor setting was such a gift. I have been inspired and empowered!”