Practicing Inclusivity

in the garden

The students walked through the corridor of sunflowers in the middle school garden, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, spotting tiny orange tomatoes at knee level and big green beans dangling at eye level. Their task: to cut some of the bright yellow blossoms waving high above their heads.

The activity was not only an infusion of nature, but it was also a fun way to connect students to each other and to staff. The final step would be delivering bouquets of sunflowers to the school’s main office, counseling center and greeter desk.

special delivery

Connecting students through fun activities

Kathleen Beckley and Melissa Smythe, seventh grade Team Grit math co-teachers, and Peter Iannarelli, JJMS special education teacher have been working together to create a more inclusive environment for all students. "We’re looking for more ways to create a more inclusive environment for all students,” said Smythe. The sunflower bouquets are the launch of a year-long partnership.

The sunflowers started out as seeds planted in little cups last May by last year’s seventh graders. They transplanted the seedlings to the garden before the school year ended. This year’s seventh graders collected some of the dried sunflower heads while they were in the garden. They’ll start plants for next year’s seventh graders and keep the good thing going.