Growing Minds by Growing School Gardens
When Laurie Brekke and Hope Hanlon created the learning garden for Atlantic Highlands Elementary School, they assumed it would be embraced with open arms: a gift; an outdoor playground to be used as a hands-on teaching tool, incorporating everything from science to the arts. However, teachers have too much to accomplish and structure became king. Over time and growing classroom sizes, play became secondary and the teachers were unsure about how the garden could help them. But children knew, and while their teachers may have forgotten how to let go of structure and have fun, their students taught them the most valuable lesson of all..there is so much more to learn in a school garden than gardening.
About Laurie Brekke and Hope Hanlon
Laurie Brekke is the co-founder of GoSprouts.org. Along with co-founder Hope Hanlon, they proposed the creation of a learning garden to Atlantic Highlands Elementary School. After many “huh?’s”, their program, now more than three years old, has educators fighting for weekly spots on the calendar. Students and teachers alike have enjoyed discovering connections between their current curriculum and health, nature and sustainability; they also gained a deep sense of teamwork, accomplishment, empowerment and civic responsibility – simply by weaving hands-on-learning into an outdoor setting. As members of the Navesink Garden Club, they recently won two distinguished Junior Gardener awards from the Garden Club of NJ in recognition of their devotion & success to this program. They are mothers of young daughters and enjoy merging their previous corporate and personal skills and passions into these well-deserving programs for children.