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Pearson Ranch Middle School launches SEL garden program

Published: May 9, 2018

This spring The Michael & Susan Dell Community Collaborative for Child Health provided $150-$500 grants to help support Central Texas schools, nonprofit organizations, and other community groups in promoting social and emotional learning in a variety of fun, innovative and engaging initiatives. Twenty stellar community groups received the C’s the Day: Caring Communities Create Capable Children mini-grants to support their SEL efforts. In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting a few of our grantees to learn more about their SEL highlights and experiences. Today, we spotlight an exciting new SEL initiative being launched by Pearson Ranch Middle School. 

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Pearson Ranch Middle School implemented a school-wide garden program that provides students a platform to practice responsibility and track their hard work in a practical way. The students are building a sense of self-empowerment by seeing what their hard work can produce while also taking responsibility for the health of their community and the environment. The first phase of this program was to begin composting material during their 6th grade lunch in order to have a supply of high quality composted soil to use in creation for the school garden. Students have been conducting a waste audit before they start composting the compostable materials from the cafeteria in an effort to track the reduction in waste that composting generates.

Pam Wallace, who is helping the students with their composting program, emphasizes that educating the students first can lead to a very successful and engaging program. “We have just begun the actual composting of cafeteria scraps,” Wallace informs us. “We have spent a lot of time educating the students about the benefits of composting and practicing what we will compost.” She shares that one of the highlights of this process has been the pride the students express in doing something that is directly impacting their school and community.

When asked to share some tips for those looking to implement projects similar to the composting program at Pearson Ranch Middle School, Wallace offered some helpful advice: “Spend the time educating your students,” Wallace advises, “Generating excitement among the students is so important in the success of the project.” This initiative is a great example of how educating and involving youth in efforts to be environmental stewards not only helps the environment, but also grows students’ leadership, sense of community and their social and emotional learning. Onward, Pearson Ranch Middle School students! You are a great model for our central Texas community.

If you are interested in learning more from our awardees about the highlights, challenges and lessons they learned with their SEL initiatives, join us for this year’s Community Collaborative for Child Health Summit on May 19th from 9:30am-11:30pm. Click here to learn more and sign up. We hope to SEL (see) you there!

Written by: 

Jessica Marquez, Dell Health Undergraduate Scholar

Jessica is a student at St. Edwards University studying Art and Biology with a goal to attend medical school. She previously attended Parsons School of Design where she studied Integrated Design before switching gears and beginning her career in health and wellness. 


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