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Seeds to Success: Wake Forest Scholars Learn Art of Gardening

Teachers often share their best traits and background experiences with their classes, so it’s fortunate students in the gardening elective at Wake Forest Charter Academy have Danielle Barclay to teach them about seeds and weeds.
Barclay is in her third year of teaching and much of her day focuses on math instruction with sixth graders. She also gets to draw on all the time she spent working with her father in the backyard greenhouse he built.
“I just love being crafty, planting, and I love flowers,” Barclay said. “I really want to teach them the importance of where these things we eat are coming from. A lot of the vegetables that we go into the grocery store to get, a lot of times kids don’t know where they’re coming from, they don’t know all it entails, and they realize it’s important to grow your own vegetables.”

A student planting a garden. 
A parent donated an indoor garden system that mimics sunlight cycles so students could get an early start. They began planting seeds for parsley, basil, dill, cilantro, and sunflowers inside the classroom in early January. Over time, the sprouts emerged, and growth was noticeable every few days.
Barclay said a big part of this elective is about getting students to learn how to take care of something specific. They learn that if they don’t water and nurture the plant, it won’t grow and will eventually die.
 Children planting flowers.

“Teaching them responsibility and the basic skills, they start to see the plants start to produce vegetables and flowers,” Barclay said. “The hard work they’re putting into it, they see it pay off.”
WFCA offers many electives to students including Mythology, Reader’s Theater, Art, Recyclables and Finance, but Gym is the most popular and the first one to fill up. Which means some students don’t get their first choice and will be placed in other electives.

Different plants growing. 
“Some of them at first are like ‘man, I don’t want to be in here, plants are not my favorite,’ but some of them are really starting to take an interest in it. Some of their parents are involved in horticulture, gardening, and greenhouses. They’re sharing some of the things they do outside of school, growing gardens, and different plants they’ve grown with their families. So now those kids that didn’t want to be in this elective, they’re getting excited to see things grow.”
Warmer weather has helped get the class outside to spruce-up the exterior plants around the school as well.
“There’s a garden area that the previous gardening teacher started with little beds they made,” Barclay said. “We plant different things in those like different herbs, vegetables, and flowers. We want to continue with that, so the kids have something beautiful to look at but learn about too.”
Barclay is planning to create steppingstones with the students as well.
“I’m really excited and I hope they learn a lot.”
Wake Forest Charter Academy is part of National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.