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Emerson Garden Teaching New Skills, Enhancing Learning Environment

One outdoor space at the Emerson Academy of Dayton is enhancing learning, giving students a new environment, and adding skills to scholars’ tool belts. The garden on campus is the place to be.

First-grade Teacher Allie Dyer leads efforts to maintain the raised garden beds and the plants in them. Dyer has increased the number of garden beds in her three years at Emerson and has helped grow the area along with scholar interest.

Dyer’s goal is to use the space not just as a garden, but also use it as an outdoor learning environment. This educational space has been filled with vegetables in the past but will look different this spring. Plants like sunflowers, cosmos, miracle flowers, and many more are adorning these concrete garden beds.

Scholars take seeds donated from the local community and focus on the math involved in planting each seed. Dyer said students mark popsicle sticks with the proper depth of each type of seed. They tuck seeds in at the proper depth and cover them back with soil.

Scholars also learn about what different plants look like and how to identify them. Dyer also teaches them about looking for weeds and how to successfully pull them out.

Emerson student tending to the garden
Emerson’s garden area features several raised garden beds and features sunflowers, cosmos, miracles, plenty of herbs, and much more.

These lessons aren’t the only benefit for scholars. Dyer said she notices a shift for some scholars on a different level.

“I’ve noticed a lot of my kids who struggle behaviorally get a lot of joy from just being out there,” Dyer said. “Whether it’s watering one of the beds or helping me pull out the dandelions, you can really see the positive effects on them mentally and emotionally while they’re out there.”

Scholars enjoy the space and are always excited to take their learning outdoors. They also admire the hard work put in from Dyer. She said she received a compliment recently from an eighth-grade scholar, which she said made her feel appreciated because the entire school noticed the care she puts in to the garden. The gratitude on display is one of the many reasons Emerson has outperformed the local district for the last 16 years.

With summer right around the corner, Dyer said she is hoping to include the space in the school’s summer learning program.

“I’m really excited to see what we can do with the kids over the summer,” Dyer said.

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About Emerson Academy
Emerson Academy of Dayton is a tuition-free, public charter school in Dayton, Ohio, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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