PANAMA CITY — A special needs school in Millville plans to cultivate responsibility and education within its community garden. See photo, Master Gardener Judy Stevens helps Cody Blankenship plant a bean as Cameron Erskine watches at Margaret K. Lewis School in Panama City on Tuesday.
Margaret K. Lewis Exceptional Education Center is introducing about 95 percent of its students to an agricultural and gardening program and plans to plant its own community garden. Leaders of the program said the act of planting a seed and watching it grow allows for a wide range of educational opportunities.
“It’s a great way to go through and say you are responsible for this part of the garden,” said Britt Smith, principal. “Along the line they see what was just dirt or something you put in the ground become a beautiful flower or plant.”
Students began three weeks ago identifying types of plants and tools to prepare for gardening in the cooler autumn months.
At the forefront of the effort is a former MKL teacher, Judy Stevens, who has been seeking grants and other assistance from the community. So far she has received wheelchair-friendly picnic tables, donated by Eastern Shipbuilding, and a $1,000 grant through the local 4-H youth development program.
“We’ve really had a good time doing this and it has been beneficial to them already,” Stevens said. “Some of the kids seem to calm down. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic for some of them that tend to be more excited, so the more we get outside and dig in the dirt the more fun we’re going to have.”
Teachers also have been using the school’s Smart Board technology to identify different biological parts of the plant and regional soil types.
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 20:59 PM.
PHOTO: Andrew Wardlow