Friday, May 6, 2011

How to Grow a School - Partnerships for Youth Empowerment

Yesterday, New Orleans Liberation Academy spent the day with Rethink (Kids Rethinking New Orleans Schools) helping them build a beautiful garden.

Qasim Davis, NOLA Teacher, Rethink Gardener and Louisana Delta
Service Corps member (left) and NOLA student Anthony Johnson (right)
The Rethinkers are a group of students in New Orleans who want to rethink and rebuild our schools after Hurricane Katrina. Thier vision is simple: a great education for every kid in our city, no matter the color of their skin, what neighborhood they stay in or how much money their parents make. No one deserves a voice in rebuilding New Orleans schools more than the students who go to these places every single day. We agree!

We learned about how the Rethinkers hope to use the garden as a teaching tool to help youth ad schools recognize that it's time to rethink school lunch. Read the Rethinkers report, Time to Rethink School Lunch to learn how students graded New Orleans public school cafeterias and their recomendations for change.

As we work to grow our new school, gardening gives us the opportunity to think about the how similar the growth requirements are for of both plants and children.

From Chris Mercogliano's How to Grow a School: Starting and Sustaining Schools that Work:

"Both need to be loved and nourished. Both need warmth and sunshine and open space. Both need to be appreciated and admired. Both need to be lefty alone to do their own thing, while at the same time they need to be protected from intruders and toxic influences. Neither need the addition of synthetic chemicals to regulate their development... ...plants [or children] don't require constant attention in order to reach their greatest height and beauty. If the conditions of the garden [or school] are right and everything is well established then there is often not much for the gardener [or teacher] to do -- aside from a little weeding, mulching, and watering -- except observe and be patient... Patience is called for because growth cannot be rushed; it happens in its own time. There is no place in the garden [or school] for anxious managers. They make the plants [or children] feel anxious too, and this only drags them down."
These are important lessons from the garden and we hope our partnership with the Rethinkers will continue to grow as their garden grows - naturally.

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