Quander Road School, Coast Guard Partner to Maintain Outdoor Learning Space

School News
September 21, 2018

students clearing the gardenThe six-year-old garden at Quander Road School got a helping hand from volunteers at the U.S. Coast Guard Telecommunication and Information Systems Command (TISCOM) on September 19 as they worked side-by-side with students to prepare a plot for fall planting.  The Coast Guard members are no strangers to Quander Road; they participate in a tutoring program with students and have planned an upcoming project with the school’s biology department.  The garden has been an ever-growing space for learning, therapy, community engagement, and student growth since it was established during the 2013-14 school year.  It started as a vegetable patch collaboration with local farmer and Maple Avenue Market owner Chris Guerre and over time has blossomed into a large vegetable garden where students grow, harvest, and share vegetables with the community; a pollinator garden and outdoor learning area, a huge native meadow; and a separate learning courtyard for classes to use for learning, complete with WIFI access. The garden has enabled students to have a better understanding of ecological processes in science classes and are also used in math, 2D and 3D art, physical education, history, English, and cooking and personal development classes while contributing to students' social and emotional growth. Students are able to foster better relationships with people and the Earth while digging up over 1,000 grass chunks and then planting over 2,400 plants by hand, building their confidence and finding emotional balance by seeing what they can create. They have also been able to watch monarchs grow and change in the garden. Established by teachers Rose Bottle, Mary Figliola, and Brooke LaPorta, the garden has received support from naturalists at Fairfax County Park Authority’s Huntley Meadows Park; Earth Sangha Native Plant Nursery; FCPA Master Gardeners; interns from George Mason University; the United States Coast Guard’s Partners in Education program; local Eagle Scouts, members of the community; the new Garden Alliance Group made up of staff members from Quander, Pulley Center, and West Potomac High; plus an FCPS Schoolyard Small Mini Grant and a grant from Lowe’s. Contact Brooke LaPorta at bllaporta@fcps.edu.