The Learning Garden: Engaging Students Beyond the Classroom

Next time you visit the Cornerstone Prep Denver campus, you might look for the brand new Learning Garden! We're excited for this new project because we believe the Learning Garden is important to help us engage students in learning beyond the classroom. At CPD, we encourage students to be leaders in their communities. As students develop leadership skills through demonstrating responsibility in their care for our garden, we are helping them think beyond their current lives. We desire for them to have big dreams and strong goals for their lives. Dreams so large, and goals so strong that nothing can get in their way!

During our Fall Kick-off on October 26, 2016, six classrooms did the initial planting and helped install our drip irrigation system. We were also joined by community members, as well, and police officers from the New Allen Police Station, officers have continually partnered with our school, and can often be seen talking with students, and visiting our school!

The idea for the Learning Garden came from Domenic Andolina, Special Education instructor at CPD, who learned of an opportunity to become one of a growing number of schools in Memphis to have their very own learning garden. The entire project was funded by The Kitchen Community, whose organization has built more than 250 learning gardens in Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis.

"We believe there are unlimited curricular connections when working in the garden--science, math, literacy, and problem solving just to name a few!" Mr. Andolina said, when asked about how the Learning Garden will accomplish the goal of engaging students in learning beyond their classrooms. "Students growing their own food will also help them think about what they are putting in their bodies, and where it comes from. We hope that this will lead to a larger conversation about health!" 

The hope is for classrooms to take over weekly watering and care of the garden. Also, as we launch our 5th Grade Student Leader program, we hope to have them lead younger students in caring for our garden as well. We have had many parents turn in volunteer forms and express a desire to donate supplies. We will continue to seek ways to involve parents in care of the garden, as well. 

Though the project has been spearheaded by Mr. Andolina, other Learning Garden leaders include Assistant Principal, Pam McReynolds; Speech and Language Pathologist, Dana Phillips; and Communities in Schools Representative, Wendi Stec. We are thankful for their passion for this project and for the generous funding through The Kitchen Community!

Here's to getting our hands in the dirt and learning to grow!


Interested in volunteer or donating supplies such as gloves, hand shovels, watering cans and more to the Learning Garden? Contact the Cornerstone Prep Denver main office at (901) 416-3936.