Education Blossoms at Bond Hill Academy’s Outdoor Classroom Debut

BondHill Outdoor Classroom 2

Groups of students donned lab coats and rulers to tend to their new gardens for the grand opening of Bond Hill Academy's outdoor classroom Friday, September 8.

By Green Umbrella,

Published September 12, 2023

BondHill Outdoor Classroom 2
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Source: Cincinnati Public Schools

Education Blossoms at Bond Hill Academy’s Outdoor Classroom Debut

If you imagine a farmer in overalls using hoes and tractors to tend to their crops, think again! Groups of students donned lab coats and rulers to tend to their new gardens for the grand opening of Bond Hill Academy’s outdoor classroom Friday, September 8.

“There’s a lot more to it than just learning how to dig in the soil,” said Bond Hill STEM teacher, Leslie Lyles. “I was trying to make sure they realized the mathematics involved in growing and the importance of botany. Being able to come out to analyze and observe the growth of these plants in a mathematical and scientific way is an amazing resource for our students to have.”

CPS and Green Umbrella unveiled eight garden beds where students got their hands dirty planting spinach, carrots and strawberries. The innovative project, spearheaded by Green Umbrella’s CPS Outside program and the Cincinnati Green Schoolyards Action Network, transformed a small area next to the school’s basketball court into an innovative learning environment complete with whiteboards, sitting spaces and fruits and vegetables.

The green oasis will serve as a dynamic hub for garden-based teaching and learning, living up to the school’s new motto of “plant what you can in the space that you have.”

Green Umbrella’s Green Schoolyards program manager, Cynthia Walters, explained how safe and accessible green spaces in school communities like Bond Hill are the future of learning for students, “We are looking at curriculum integration and support for teachers in not only getting students outside but having educators feel comfortable with teaching outdoors as well.” Walters continued, “We’re working on starting green career pathways early on rather than at the high school level. The students and teachers are already engaged. They’ve already got their hands in the soil. They’re already planting. They are ahead of the game because of this strong school team.”

Walters went on the explain that the gardens on display are not only an educational opportunity for the students, but an open invitation for collaboration in the community. Students are able to take the crops they harvest home along with the knowledge they learned for cultivating the vegetation.

Ceriana Portis, a grade 6 student at Bond Hill, said she’ll be taking what she learns here back home to her family’s extensive garden. “Our garden at home is in its first year of tending, so I can take the plants we get, home and tell them what I learned and how to do it for next year,” said Portis. “I’m excited about it happening because I’m excited to tell everybody what we’re doing and probably inspire more people to be able to grow.”

Bond Hill Academy’s outdoor classroom will continue to grow throughout the school year with students in all grades having part in tending to the garden.

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