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Higley Achievement Foundation awards teacher grants
The Higley Achievement Foundation presented the Sossaman Garden Project with the Gail Stapleton Mini-Grant Award in early January. The award will provide up to $300 for the project, which aims to benefit self-contained specialized students through gardening.
To be implemented by Sossaman Middle School teachers Elizabeth Sheppard and Rochelle Intrieri, the project aims to teach special education students about academic topics through lessons about food production. While purchasing seeds, pruning plants and more, students will relate gardening to weather and time. Reading material will cover information about plants, as well as the history of Arizona agriculture.
“Any opportunity to give the special education students a multi-faceted learning experience is good,” Sheppard said. “These kids have enough talent as it is. The more creative I can be in how I help them access their academics, the more successful they will be.”
The Sossaman Garden Project will also teach students about teamwork, communication skills and life skills. The students will create shopping lists, take care of their individual plants and ask strangers for help. They will learn from guest speakers and go on a trip to a nursery.
The end result will be a transformation of Sossaman’s second floor balcony from a space with common desert plants to a noticeably thriving garden. Sheppard hopes this will be a point of pride for the middle school’s staff and admin.
“It’s good for the general education student body to see something that our kids have done,” Sheppard said. “We want to build those relationships between the special ed kids and the general kids… This is something beautiful we all can enjoy.”
In addition to the Sossaman grant, the Higley Achievement Foundation awarded Marie Semodio, Tracy Cook and fourth-grade team from Chaparral Elementary School a mini grant for the “Flocabulary Project.”