StarShine Academy has had a school garden since we opened in 2002 and it has been extremely beneficial for our students and our community. Our StarShine Garden Curriculum continues to evolve, and this past year we had our inaugural StarShine Farmers Market, selling produce to our local neighborhood. The long-term goal that our students and teachers are working tirelessly towards is to expand in our pursuit of developing a sustainable food supply for our school lunch program and instilling agricultural awareness within our student body.
The culture of our school is distinctive. Global awareness, financial literacy, career, personal, and holistic development, StarShine also instills environmental awareness in our students as well. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is our motto. Our students understand that lettuce doesn’t come from McDonalds, but from hard strenuous labor in a garden similar to their own. Because they are aware of the origin of the food they eat, our students instantaneously develop a sustainable mindset. They are able to relate with the farmers, and the hard work it takes in growing and selling food. Our garden is distinct in its own right, but our students’ actions in collectively improving the garden impress every visitor of our school. It’s because of our environmental awareness curriculum that has been instilled in our students subconsciously. Planting crops, adding leftover food to our compost bin, watering our garden, and harvesting crops lends a sense of normality within our school. Compare that to my experience in primary and secondary education where the closest thing I’ve ever had to gardening was putting a potato in water and watching it grow leaves.
Today, President Obama delivered an education reform speech at the National Urban League’s 100th Anniversary Convention. In it he explained how important charter schools are to “stir up” things by trying innovative techniques to engrain true knowledge within our future generation. He hit the nail on the head, and its what the foundation of StarShine Academy is all about. Our garden and our environmental awareness curriculum is only a small example of different techniques we have used in the past 8 years to change struggling students into healthy, productive, and happy individuals. Meeting the needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy allows our students to grow into their full potential. At StarShine Academy our curriculum is based around knowledge based learning. As mentioned before, our students have a StarShine Farmers Market where they sell their produce to the local community, and learn first hand entrepreneurial skills.
It’s so rewarding to see how our garden, our students, and our community has grown and flourished together over the past 8 years. We look forward to another great year at StarShine Academy, and we can’t wait to try whatever creative ideas our students always tend to come up with for how to best use our garden.
Please feel free to comment on any advice you would like to pass on to our StarShine Student Gardeners. Thanks!