Thanks to one dedicated librarian, students at Westminster Community School were able to spend a large majority of their reading time in the garden this fall. Mandy Walsh, the current librarian in Westminster and former art and library teacher in Grafton, is eager to get her students outside as often as possible. She manages the school’s large teaching garden—using the space to teach her students how to plant, nurture and harvest their own produce.
One favorite activity is the Salsa Scavenger Hunt, in which students harvest tomatoes, peppers, onions, and other salsa ingredients from the garden and then turn them into a big batch of salsa for snacking. In addition to food-growing activities, Mandy reads with students in the “sunflower classroom,” a large space encircled by sunflowers.
“We planted during camp in cups of dirt and added the seeds” - Maci, WCS student
“It was so cool because there are sunflowers everywhere that we read books and talk and play” - Alden, WCS student
It’s not just library classes that benefit from this kind of education—a number of teachers partner with Mandy throughout the school year to take their classes into the garden as well. Westminster Community Schools are more committed than ever to find ways for students to engage with nature. In fact, each Friday, Kindergartners spend the day in the school’s outdoor classroom.
“This is the boundary of our outdoor classroom. From this spot I can see water and different trees. I like to listen to the sound of the running river from this spot” - Elliot, WCS Student
This spring, Westminster students look forward to a number of projects, including a garlic harvest, spring garden clean-up, and a number of fun cooking projects. This year, Mandy is also excited to plant a number of crops to be harvested in time for next fall’s annual Thanksgiving Supper at the school.
“I love planning, with our staff, for our spring planting and fall harvest during the heart of winter.” - Mandy Walsh