Farm to School program growing by leaps and bounds in Pocahontas schools
Pocahontas County Schools joined the Farm-to-School movement in 2011, starting gardens at the schools and in the classrooms. At the board of education meeting September 8th , director of food services Lisa Dennison and AmeriCorps volunteer Carl Kelk gave an update on the program that is growing by leaps and bounds in every school.
Dennison said she and Kelk have worked hard together on the stuff that’s been planted and started and have been able to put a lot of it into fruition. She said it seems to her that the most successful schools and counties in the Farm-to-school program are the ones that are growing things in the classrooms with the kids, with them actually eating or selling the fruits of their labors.
Kelk added that there are several projects in the works at schools to add gardens and greenhouses to increase production. He said there are plans to build a garden at Hillsboro elementary this year, with some help from the community. He said Rose’s Excavating is providing clean topsoil, Larry Hiner is going to donate wood for use in building a 3 x 24 foot long raised bed garden, and the US Forest service has donated some old firefighting tool boxes to put outside. Hillsboro Elementary School is also using grow lights in the classrooms.
On the opposite end of the county, the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School greenhouse is getting a makeover according to Kelk. Speaking of the success at Green Bank, Kelk said when he first started in January, he wanted to tear the greenhouse down, because of the bad shape it was in. But he said they are rebuilding it, with some help in the form of tables donated by Mill Gap Supply from their old greenhouse.
Kelk said he has used the “beg, borrow and steal” method to improve the programs at each school, which has worked in the schools’ favors.
At Marlinton Middle School, the gardens are in great shape for the new planting season, and the greenhouse at Pocahontas County High School is ready for plants, as well.
Kelk added that he plans to build several raised beds at Marlinton Elementary School to increase the growing area for its students.
The board thanked Dennison and Kelk for the update and showed enthusiasm for the program.
Coordinator of teaching and learning Christina Smith shared information on her progress in working with teachers. Smith is collaborating with teachers in and out of the classrooms to work toward self-directed goals. She is also providing resources to assist the teachers with education plans.
Smith plans to continue analyzing the Westest 2 test scores in order to find problem areas and focus on ways to help students increase their understanding.
In other business, the board approved the following:
• Janet E. McNeel as volunteer for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
• The Pocahontas County archery team to use the ARC building in Marlinton as its practice facility, pending approval by the Pocahontas County Commission.
• Heather D. Simmons, Robert Simmons, David Smith, Jody Spencer and Rebecca Spencer as volunteer coaches for the Pocahontas County archery team, effective for the 2014-2015 season.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Employment of Sarah A. Cover as classroom aide/bus aide at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School at state basic pay, retroactive to August 27, for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, term of employment is 189 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
• Employment of Felicia L. Smith as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic pay, retroactive to August 27, for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, term of employment is 189 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
• Employment of Margaret Worth as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 10, for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.
Thanks to Jaynell Graham of the Pocahontas Times newspaper for the information in this report.