We were very excited to find out recently that Walker Jones had been selected as a 2011 RiverSmart school. The RiverSmart program is a part of the District Department of the Environment, and focuses upon making greening projects possible for DC schools. These innovative schoolyard greening projects focus on incorporating landscape design principles that create habitat for wildlife, emphasize the use of native plants, highlight water conservation, and retain and filter stormwater runoff. They have the added benefits of an outdoor classroom that supports effective teaching practices and promotes student learning.
Creating wetlands, ponds and meadows or planting trees, shrubs and gardens can add beauty and diversity to a site, while fostering ecological awareness and “big picture” thinking in those who participate. These projects will teach gardening and community service skills, improve the aesthetics of school grounds, and build student and community pride.
In addition to installing new schoolyard green space, the program provides teachers with the training and resources they need to use their conservation site to teacher lessons based on the DCPS Standards. The garden will serve as a permanent outdoor learning tool for teachers to provide hands-on learning in many areas of study.
Walker Jones Education Campus hosted the first of four teacher education events this past week for all the schools accepted into this year’s program. As our green team now begins focusing on which projects we would like to develop on our campus, we are thrilled at the number of opportunities we have to choose from and the promise each holds for the students. The team is comprised of two RiverSmart veterans, librarian Susan Wagner and physical education teacher Melvin Thomas, as well as outreach director and WJ Farm point person Frances Evangelista, math teacher John LaRue, science teacher Camille Locke, and English teacher Amy London.