By: Maggie Notopoulos, Commonwealth Corps Service Member
This 2016-2017 school year CitySprouts is partnering with the Massachusetts Service Alliance Commonwealth Corps service members Ch’nia Williams and Maggie Notopoulos to teach the Middle School Out-of-School Programs in six Boston and Cambridge public schools. They have been gearing up for the school year and this is their first month’s journey:
Growing up in Newton, MA I was lucky to have school gardens in my elementary school, and cooking experiences in my middle and high school, but sadly not only are these vital childhood experiences not nationwide, but they’re not even statewide; luckily CitySprouts is here to change that! I got involved with CitySprouts by deciding to do a service year with Commonwealth Corps as a way to reconnect and work with broader communities in my home state by sharing my passion for food education. CitySprouts’ service opportunity is a fantastic way to experience all that CitySprouts has to offer: we work with elementary and middle schools in Boston and Cambridge, while also having a volunteerism focus to help expand opportunities to all community members, not just students!
To learn all the ins and outs of the organization Ch’nia and I have really gotten our hands dirty (pun intended) with all parts of the organization. From participating in our annual Advisory Board breakfast, to working hands-on with the Garden Coordinators to learn about maintenance and uses of our gardens, our first month has been a constantly varying snapshot of all CitySprouts has to offer. This perspective shows how impactful the organization truly is. At CitySprouts we don’t just establish a garden and maintain the property, we connect youth to New England traditions by pressing apples into cider in Fall, we work alongside teachers to expand educational opportunities not just with STEM learning, but in social and emotional development, and we connect community members of all ages to establish roots in the health and development of their communities.
In just my first few weeks in the schools, it is easy to see and hear how much CitySprouts touches teachers, parents, students, and community members. It only increases my drive to bring CitySprouts’ mission to each community I get the pleasure of serving with this Fall and Spring.