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Experience... is the best rule to walk by. --George Washington to John Parke Curtis, West Point, August 24, 1779

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Big-Hearted Students Inspire Experiential Lessons

Three years ago, English as a Second Language (ESL) students from College Place Middle School in Lynnwood, Washington, planted flowers in front of the school as a volunteer project. They paid for the flowers themselves. Two years ago, the same enthusiastic students said they'd like to plant another garden, so their teacher, Merilee Bengtsson, created a lesson plan and asked the Parent Club for funds to plant flowers as a larger class project. With the help of parent volunteers, the class replanted the area in front of the school. This year, with the help of volunteer master gardeners, gardening has become a unit of lessons for science, map making, and math as well as English.

On an African boy's first day of school, the class began planting flowers. "I was so surprised to put the gloves on my hands!" he exclaimed. In Africa, the boy's school planted a garden for a science project, but he had never used gloves at school before. "When I plant the flower, I feel great." On his first day of school, this boy spoke only a few words of English, but now he can express his pride. Bengtsson and the Master Gardener Volunteers hope their lessons teach future gardeners to make gardens both beautiful and environmentally kind.


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