Over the years, PHS’s Green City Teachers program has educated hundreds of school teachers with a hands-on, action-oriented approach to learning.
The text, videos, and PDFs below provide a glimpse of the seeds Philadelphia teachers, PHS educators, and local school children have sown in knowledge, and how they continue to reap a love of gardening.
The participating teachers in the two-session “Creating a School Garden” course, offered in late June, had an overwhelming positive response. With power tools, shovels, and saws at their disposal, teachers built raised garden beds in a logical and cost-effective manner. Bucket brigades passing soil was a sight to see. Planting flowers and vegetables into beds and containers, and other hands-on activities, allowed for many “aha” moments. With the learning-by-doing approach, teachers gain the confidence to apply this knowledge to their own schools. In addition, many times the larger community is engaged as well.
Each fall, GCT offers a five-part “Basic Training” course that introduces teachers to the fascinating world of horticulture. The course syllabus has expanded this year to include these topics:
- Basic horticulture
- Indoor gardening
- Food gardening
- Plant propagation
- Gardens in culture
- Schoolyard habitats
- Garden design
- Handicap accessibility
The “Green Plan”
Teachers are asked to create a Green Plan that explains the vision for their school, which includes details on implementation.
Take a look at two of the plans submitted by teachers.
Teachers who complete the Green City Teachers program can receive ongoing help and advice. Mentors, some of whom are Master Gardeners or retired school teachers, can be send to assist Green City Teachers who need additional instruction. The GCT program also assists schools with funding to implement their individual Green Plans. Teachers have used this funding to purchase seeds, books, tools, and lumber. Some have taken field trips to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, the PHS Junior Flower Show, and other engaging locations.
At times, teachers allow students to help in the building phase, along with family and community members when appropriate. The garden becomes a tool for learning through compelling math and science lesson plans. Students can determine what to plant, how to arrange the seeds or plants in the garden, and figure spacing according to the plant requirements. The students are engaged by taking part on planting day and at harvest time…and these lessons instill an appreciation of horticulture in their hearts and minds.
Teachers are invited to additional workshops offered by PHS, based on the interests and needs of the group. These have included building raised beds, vermiculture, composting, extending the growing season, building rain-barrels, starting community gardens, using the outdoor classroom, and planting fruit trees.
Networking and Partnerships
PHS partnerships are a great source for finding reciprocal scholarship opportunities. Recently, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education allowed five Green City Teachers to attend a workshop, and will offer scholarships for up to 20 teachers to attend the Green City Teachers training in the fall. PHS Garden Tenders and Tree Tenders, along with other partners, have been happy to offer donated items, discounts, advice, and encouragement.
Green City Teachers Build-a-Garden Summer Training
Click here for more information and to register.
Top Ten Ways Green City Teachers Are Making Difference
- PHS Green City Teachers has instructed 575 teachers since Fall 2005
- 140 school gardens have been started or expanded through Green City Teachers since its inception
- PHS Green City Teachers has influenced 14,375 children and their families, so far
- Teachers give of their time, energy and enthusiasm to help build school gardens at their schools!
- School gardens help children connect with the environment and each other
- Learning how-to-garden benefits school children in many ways, including helping them to excel in math & science
- Green City Teachers are provided valuable information & resources through networking & field trips
- Additional Project Support and mentoring is available after the training session
- There is no other program like Green City Teachers in Philadelphia
- PHS Green City Teacher instructors are the most popular, fun-loving, exciting educators ever!
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