Education Department

Students are in our program from the first – four grade (fifth at Stewart Elementary)

Each schoolyard where our program is located has vegetable and flower gardens and a nature trail. There are two 3′ x 10′ vegetable garden beds for each class. The flower gardens and nature trail are used by all of the classrooms.

Jody Maher is our Education Director. She began as a volunteer when the program started in 2002. Jody is in charge of the education program. She designed and regularly updates our curriculum, writes lesson plans, interacts with teachers for their input and feedback, hires and trains garden educators, confers with the garden department to make sure the learning centers are ready for each week’s classes, and also leads classes. Each year she manages the scheduling of her 10 part-time garden educators with the 65 teachers in the program.

Connie Bateman is one of our Garden Educators. Connie is a former teacher and has been with GGS for six years and has nine teachers assigned to her

One of Connie’s teachers is Brooke Hobson, a 2nd grade teacher at Loveland who has participated in the GGS program for more than ten years. Like all of the teachers in the program, Brooke has two vegetable garden beds that are used exclusively by her class.

Jody designed seasonal calendars (spring and fall) that align the learning opportunities in each learning center (vegetable/flower gardens and nature trail) with classroom lessons. (Link to spring & fall calendars)

Twice each month, Jody conducts a training session with her educators to discuss the next lessons for the next two weeks, share tips, details about supplies and current challenges or obstacles they may encounter on the grounds.

The educators already know the day and time they will work with each of their teachers. This is scheduled by Jody. Once paired, educators and teachers usually stay together until one or the other leaves the organization/school allowing strong relationships to develop.

Connie usually meets Mrs. Hobson in her classroom to introduce the lesson to the students then they all walk out together to whatever learning center they are using for that day’s lesson. At that point, Connie becomes the lead teacher and Mrs. Hobson her assistant. Mrs. Hobson is good about recruiting parent volunteers. It is ideal to have three volunteers so the class can be divided into four groups of 6-9 students. This allows more attention for each student and a better experience for everyone.

We collaborate with Loveland City Schools to offer hands-on learning opportunities that compliment the school’s curriculum. We transformed the 24-acre shared campus of the Loveland Primary and Elementary Schools into more than 100 vegetable gardens, loads of flower gardens, a 3/4 mile nature trail and an apple orchard. We use these resources to provide standards aligned, plant-based environmental education to the nearly 1,700 first-fourth grade students that attend the two schools. The produce is enjoyed by the students as they work in the gardens, served in the cafeteria and shared with the community in various ways.

Teachers place high value on teaching time; so do we. Time spent in the outdoor learning centersl using our lesson guides is directly connected to curriculum standards in Ohio, and our seasonal schedules (Spring and Fall) are calendars that take into account the needs of our zone 6 gardens and the timing of classroom curriculum, and pair activities and lesson guides that are relevant to each of the K-4th grades we work with. We are the land lab to the classroom across curriculum subjects. Our lesson guides, schedule and garden coordinators are the reason 48 or our 52 classroom teachers choose to participate in the program each year.

When we started the program, we did not want to introduce another curriculum for teachers to have to deal with. So, we began with what they were already teaching and found practical ways to connect it to the gardens. We now have a school calendar’s worth of plant based lessons that not only meet state standards, work with the school’s curriculum and the curriculum map, but matches it all with the needs of our zone six gardens. In addition, we have detailed first-fourth grade lesson guides for each week. We make our planting schedule, lesson guides and support information and worksheets available, free, to school garden programs across the country.

We recognize that educators from across the country are using our lesson guides. So, all of our guides are in Microsoft Word document format so they can be easily altered to meet the specific resources and needs of others who may use them. We do have a copyright on everything on our website. They are free educators to use in their garden programs. We ask only that your recognize Granny’s Garden School as the source.