by Amanda Fulkerson
There’s a special classroom at Campbell’s Castlemont Elementary School. There are no walls or fancy projectors yet students strive to spend time there. Kids can raise their voices a little and even get their hands dirty - no wonder students ‘earn’ time there.
The classroom happens to be one of the largest outdoor elementary school gardens in the Bay Area and, thanks to the community pitching in and recently sprucing it up, it is now the nicest. A garden Campbell Union School District Superintendent Dr. Andrew calls a “model” for other campuses to emulate.
The garden at Castlemont has been lovingly tended to by dedicated parents in their free time for years, but the recent inpouring of manpower and resources from local community groups like the Boy Scouts, US Marine Force affiliate The Mission Continues, and local agents of financial planning powerhouse Apperception Financial toiled for weeks to get the Garden into showcase shape prior to the community reveal Saturday September 21.
The event was a hit with teachers, parents and volunteers sharing ideas on how to take their lesson plans from indoors to outside into the interactive learning environment.
Campbell Union Elementary School District members Juliet Tiffany-Morales, Thomas Gemetti and Danielle Cohen stopped in to celebrate the new and improved garden. Board member Morales stressed the significance of hands-on learning opportunities the garden creates to further student understanding of the highly-regarded STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum taught at Castlemont and other area schools.
“I’m happy to see the community stepping in to improve this learning space for children,” said Morales. “As a Board member we want to ensure the space is useful for teachers implementing common core standards, so I’m looking forward to seeing the academic results of this beautiful space.”
Castlemont Teacher Jasper Lim has no trouble finding creative uses for the garden. His forth grade class took a discussion about school lunch ingredients to the garden to research and propose how fresh foods could actually be incorporated into their lunches. A real life lesson drafting proposals and the reality of government red-tape.
Superintendent Andrew made Castlemont’s garden a personal priority. When local Appreciation Financial agent Ryan Kale approached him with his company mantra of giving back and showing appreciation to educators Andrews pointed him to the project at Castlemont without hesitation.
“The garden is a tool to educate the whole child,” said Andrew. “Physical, emotional, and nutritional lessons are taught here in addition to any subject. It does take a community to educate a child and it’s an incredible blessing to have our community groups and business people responding to these kids.”