The CitySprouts School Partnership Program in urban public schools uses the school garden to make hands-on, minds-on learning a part of every child’s public school journey. Not all children have equal access to science education; not all children have family who can help them make meaningful connections to science. Given the power and importance of scientific knowledge– from food systems to climate change– it is critical that public schools help all children become scientifically literate.
We work closely with school communities– teachers, support staff and families– to make the garden a place for genuine inquiry for all kinds of learners. The garden is a place to see science concepts in practice, to apply math skills to solve a problem, to engineer a solution to a challenge, and to practice and refine communication skills. Through our unique model, garden-based education is integrated into public school culture, leveling the “learning field” for the economically and culturally diverse students in our public schools.
From September to June, our staff of Garden Educators give weekly support to teachers in our partner schools to help them create inquiry-based learning for their students in the garden and meaningful follow-on in the classroom. Our Garden Educators meet with teachers in grade-level staff meetings as well as individually to assist them in developing and implementing garden-based extensions to teachers’ science, English language arts and other curricula. Through weekly logs and an annual survey of teachers, we document the impact of the garden experience on children’s learning outcomes, especially science learning. We also track the impact on children’s health and well-being, specifically social emotional capabilities and interest in healthy food choice. The CitySprouts program is supported in part through a districtwide service agreement in Cambridge Public Schools and with individual school principals in Boston Public Schools. The CitySprouts Program serves only Cambridge and Boston public schools. Boston School principals interested in partnering with CitySprouts can go to PartnerBPS.org for more information.
“One of the things I value about CitySprouts is that it is developed collaboratively with teachers, and it doesn’t look the same in every school or every classroom. There’s a vision and ethos but the application is really flexible.”
2nd grade Teacher, Cambridge Public Schools
CitySprouts partners with all elementary and middle schools in Cambridge Public Schools (Pre-K through 8 th grade) and an equivalent number of Boston Public Schools. Our School Partnership Program reaches about 8,000 students and 350 teachers every year. The overwhelming majority of the students served by CitySprouts’ program live in low-income, under-resourced communities. See our list of Partner Schools.
“Our garden coordinator is knowledgeable and patient. He makes our students feel welcome and willing to try new things.”
5 th grade Teacher, Boston Public Schools
Early Learning Initiative
CitySprouts’ year-long series of teacher workshops is designed to support science education in the school garden for early learners, ages 3 to 6. The workshops series help teachers bridge the Massachusetts early grade science standards and the school learning garden to increase the number of Boston children entering third grade with a solid foundation in scientific thinking and content knowledge. Evaluation is being conducted by Sun Associates, an organization experienced with working with schools and school districts throughout the country to evaluate the impact of educational initiatives and innovations.
“I really enjoyed the series. I feel it made me, someone who doesn’t feel quite competent in science, very comfortable with teaching science. The instructor was very knowledgeable and very welcoming and able to work with people from all types of backgrounds and knowledge levels.”
Kindergarten Teacher, Boston Public Schools
Our School Partners
CitySprouts partners with all elementary and middle schools in Cambridge Public Schools (Pre-K through 8th grade) and an equivalent number of Boston Public Schools. Our School Partnership Program reaches about 8,000 students and 350 teachers every year. The overwhelming majority of the students served by CitySprouts’ program live in low income, under-resourced communities. See our list of Partner Schools.