Monday, January 14, 2019
Planting Daffodils Builds a Bridge Between Two Schools
This post is written by Adriana Perez, our FoodCorps member who is partnered with the Sheridan Academy for Young Leaders (PS457)/the Family School (PS443). Adriana will dedicate a year of service to engaging students and teachers in creating a school wide culture of health through experiential learning in their school garden, cafeteria and classroom.
When I first arrived at the Sheridan Academy for Young Leaders (PS457)/the Family School (PS443), I immediately saw many possibilities for healthy eating and wellness programming. Instead of diving in head first, I took the time to get to know the students, colleagues and the surrounding community to better understand their wants and needs.
Though there is a healthy rivalry between the schools, the schools do have some common goals: enhancing their students’ learning experiences through nutrition education and providing access to healthier foods, especially through garden programming. Unfortunately, both gardens were destroyed last year by scaffolding erected for building repairs. This year, the schools agreed to come together to rebuild their individual gardens with a new component — a community’ garden, grown and maintained by both schools.
Since most of the garden redevelopment won’t happen until the spring, I decided to "bridge the divide" between the schools with a smaller initiative — the Daffodil Project. This project, coordinated by New Yorkers for Parks and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, provides daffodil bulbs to schools and community groups throughout NYC in an effort to beautify public spaces. After speaking with Principals Rowena Penn and Lisette Febus and Assistant Principals Nicole Smith and Jose Gonzalez, we decided to plant the bulbs along the green space connecting the entrances to the two schools. This is the ideal spot for the building’s first joint garden project as it’s the waiting area for parents collecting their children at the end of the school day.
With the support of Dean Tonya and Parent Coordinators, Millicent Matos and Carlos Cedano, we recruited nearly 60 parents and children to participate in the "Dig & Daffodil" day held on November 1. It was exciting to see parents and students from both schools crouched side by side planting bulbs in the school yard on a surprisingly warm afternoon. The students and I also recruited parents and children leaving school that day to stop and plant a bulb on their way out the door. Altogether, we planted 500 bulbs!
“This is just like class,” said Kimberly, a student in my class as she enthusiastically showed her siblings how to properly plant the bulbs. When the daffodils bloom in the spring they will not only provide the yard with much needed color to the drab concrete landscape, but it will also be a physical link between the two schools. What I affectionately call the “daffodil bridge” will tell the story of the seeds we sowed early in the school year and the renewed hope their early spring blossoms will bring.