Nonprofit launches new Southeast Region based in Atlanta, first build with a KIPP school!
On April 12, KIPP STRIVE will welcome REAL School Gardens and a team of volunteers from Target to build an outdoor classroom in just one day. Starting at 9 AM, more than 150 volunteers, teachers, students and parents will transform an empty schoolyard into a powerful outdoor teaching space to help KIPP STRIVE students learn and grow.
REAL School Gardens is a national nonprofit that gives teachers in low-income schools the tools and training they need to use learning gardens to improve science, math, literacy and nutrition education. Once the outdoor classroom is constructed, REAL School Gardens’ Instructional Coaches will train KIPP STRIVE’s teachers for two years, enriching their curriculum with outdoor experiential, hands-on lessons proven to increase teacher effectiveness and student engagement. Partner schools have seen increases in standardized test score pass rates of up to 12-15 percent. The REAL School Gardens Professional Learning Program has also been proven to boost teacher effectiveness and job satisfaction and improve student engagement in learning.
Lakeesha Ramdhanie, Principal of KIPP STRIVE Primary School said, “At KIPP STRIVE Primary School, we focus on empowering our teachers to use personalized and differentiated learning to create a culture of achievement. This new outdoor classroom and professional learning program will do just that! We want to make sure our scholars love coming to school and are continually engaged in their learning. The hands-on outdoor lessons they’ll experience here will inspire our scholars for life.”
REAL School Gardens’ “Big Dig” outdoor classroom-building event
When: April 12th, starting at 9:00 AM
Target’s support is part of the company’s ongoing effort to help make wellness more affordable, accessible, and inspirational for communities by helping students grow their own nutrient-dense vegetables and learn about the importance of healthy food choices.
This is REAL School Gardens’ second Big Dig in Atlanta, with more on the horizon in the coming years. Dr. Sally Creel is the Science Supervisor for Cobb County Schools and says, “I’ve been responsible for rolling out a number of gardening programs during my time in Cobb County, and our district is also very committed to ensuring our teachers have access to professional development. REAL School Gardens does an excellent job of giving teachers the professional learning they need to use gardens as a tool to get students more engaged in their lessons. Their hands-on lessons take an integrated standards-based approach that aligns with our educational goals.”
The project marks the official launch of REAL School Gardens’ Southeast Region, which will be headquartered in Atlanta and led by Suzannah Koilpillai. Before she was tapped to lead REAL School Gardens’ newest region, Koilpillai was the VP of Sales for Napp Deady and Hill Street Warehouse, where she led her team to form new partnerships and achieve national growth. Additionally, her extensive volunteer work to improve health and educational opportunities in low-income communities makes her new role at REAL School Gardens the perfect way to combine her business skills and personal interests.
For the kickoff project at KIPP Strive, to ensure the new outdoor classroom meets the school’s needs, REAL School Gardens had students put pen to paper to illustrate what they wanted in an outdoor classroom. Then parents, teachers, and administrators shared their ideas, and the REAL School Gardens team created the final design. KIPP STRIVE’s outdoor classroom will be full of teaching features, including seating areas, white boards, raised vegetable and flower beds, perennial and herb beds, a weather station, an earth science station, rain barrels, pollinator plants, native trees, and butterfly and wildlife habitats.