Schlegel Road Elementary School’s courtyard became an outdoor learning environment that the students are taking ownership in.
The students and staff have worked to convert the courtyard into a learning and gardening space, with each grade level taking ownership over part of the project.
Monroe County Legislator and Schlegel parent Matthew Terp put the school in touch with Cornell Cooperative Extension, which in turn gave Schlegel vegetable seeds and helped them create a plan for basic maintenance of the courtyard, said teacher Sarah Paprocki, who oversees the project.
“We’ve been partnering with Cornell Cooperative and have had many donations and volunteers along the way,” said Paprocki.
Green Spark donated organic potting soil. Webster Thomas High School technology teacher Mike Tuchrello’s class created raised planting beds, a storage shed and a bird house. Mitchell Landscaping reconfigured the flagstone path to make it more accessible to persons with walkers and wheelchairs. Other contributors included R.T. Masters, a local Girl Scout troop, and parents, all of whom donated from time and talent to potting soil and plantings.
With the courtyard upgraded, each grade level is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a section of it, and staff maintain the pond and its inhabitants — fish and turtles. Students and families stay engaged with it during the summer by signing up for days to come in and work on a section of the space.
“We also have plans to have little farm to table event in conjunction with one of our summer library days, so the kids can enjoy the fruits of their labor...literally,” said Paprocki.
The students have already been enjoying the refreshed green space as teachers incorporate it into learning opportunities that have included planting flowers and vegetables, sketching and yoga.