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Mr. Nico’s Classroom Edit display name

  • Elmhurst United Middle School
  • Oakland, CA
  • Nearly all students from low‑income households

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In 2018-19, I spearheaded a project to beautify the school, and to educate students on gardening and landscape, by purchasing (mostly out of my pocket to get it going) planters, plants, and flowers that could be placed at the school’s gate entrances, on the yard, and in the hallways, with 6th grade students charged with watering, maintaining, and generally caring for their “babies” (as they grew to call their plants and/or flowers). Along with creating school pride (our school gardeners also voluntarily pick up trash and identify/remove graffiti), the “Campus Beautification” project has had a strong educational component as most of these students have never cared for gardens and learn watering techniques, cropping and clipping, and all the other nuances that accompany garden care. They also learn to love gardening, and tending to plants, flowers and gardens, through hands-on exposure to care-taking and seeing the results. Educationally, this program also folds into our grade Earth Science curriculum, offering the chance to teach students about the different genera/species of plant life, what plants are native to the U.S. and to other countries (in particular Mexico and Africa, where the majority of our students have roots), and the various connections between plant life and the environment, e.g., carbon dioxide, chlorophyll, climate change.

About my class

In 2018-19, I spearheaded a project to beautify the school, and to educate students on gardening and landscape, by purchasing (mostly out of my pocket to get it going) planters, plants, and flowers that could be placed at the school’s gate entrances, on the yard, and in the hallways, with 6th grade students charged with watering, maintaining, and generally caring for their “babies” (as they grew to call their plants and/or flowers). Along with creating school pride (our school gardeners also voluntarily pick up trash and identify/remove graffiti), the “Campus Beautification” project has had a strong educational component as most of these students have never cared for gardens and learn watering techniques, cropping and clipping, and all the other nuances that accompany garden care. They also learn to love gardening, and tending to plants, flowers and gardens, through hands-on exposure to care-taking and seeing the results. Educationally, this program also folds into our grade Earth Science curriculum, offering the chance to teach students about the different genera/species of plant life, what plants are native to the U.S. and to other countries (in particular Mexico and Africa, where the majority of our students have roots), and the various connections between plant life and the environment, e.g., carbon dioxide, chlorophyll, climate change.

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