New Partner School FAQ

Q: Is the Schoolyard Roots educator a certified teacher?

A: Our instructors are not required to be certified teachers and therefore cannot teach alone. While some of them are, we cannot guarantee that the instructor at your school is. What we can guarantee is that our instructors are experts at what they do. We promote a co-teaching model designed to advance teachers’ comfort with bringing learning outdoors and to activate outdoor classroom use by the entire school community. Teachers are expected to accompany Schoolyard Roots instructors in the outdoor classroom and participate in lessons.

Q: Is this a grant?

No, this is not a grant. It is a garden training program that is hosted by your school, and supported, in part, by the Tuscaloosa City and Tuscaloosa County School Boards of Education.

Q: Can I relax now and let Schoolyard Roots do everything?

A: Sorry, but no! Your Schoolyard Roots instructor will be on site your first two years in the program so that teachers have the support they need to successful bring their classroom to life in the garden. It is our goal to model, train and prepare you as much as possible so your school can operate your independently.

Q: I’m the only teacher at my school who wants to do it. Can Schoolyard Roots work with me?

A: Yes and no. To work with our full program, we require that a minimum of 75% of teachers at a school participate, with a preference of 100%. We recognize that not every teacher is going to love the idea of garden time at first, but we have also found that many of our biggest teacher advocates only become so after they experienced the program. We ask that a simple majority of a school’s teachers be open to the idea of the program (as well as the Principal being enthusiastic about it!) in order for us to begin working with you.

Individual teachers who want to participate are best served by purchasing our low-cost curriculum, which is available here and includes a Toolkit that will help you design, install, and grow your garden.

Q: How much Professional Development time do my teachers have to do?

A: In order to adequately train our teachers, it is crucial to spend time training them. In Year 1 of the program, 100% of participating teachers must attend a day-long Summer Institute, which we schedule in the pre-school work days, prior to students’ return in August. Then, throughout the school year, teachers must attend three 1-hour PD sessions that are held after school. In Year 2 of the program, there are an additional three 1-hour PD sessions after school, all of which are carefully designed to ensure that teachers are prepared in year 3, when they go it alone!

Q: How do schools fit this into a busy schedule?

A: We’ve all heard it – time is a big issue for teachers! That’s why our lessons are standards-based and come with everything the teacher needs in order to complete them … including pre- made worksheets and activities. The Gardens 2 Schools program shouldn’t be viewed as something extra, but as a hands-on tool to teach classroom concepts.

Q: Are parents involved?

A: Parents can play an important role in this program. Many parents choose to serve on the Garden Committee, help with student-run farm stands, and, of course, eat school garden produce with their children at home!

Q: How is the Gardens 2 Schools program at our school funded?

The initial cost of your garden is paid for by a combination of the school, school district and Schoolyard Roots. Schoolyard Roots is a 501©3 nonprofit – we get our funding from a mix of grants, corporate partners, and donations. Schools have a small yearly cost of $750 in the first two years and $250 beyond that time.

Schoolyard Roots also provides on-site garden instructors to support and train your teachers during the first two years of the program. Your school is responsible for ongoing garden costs, which can be offset by produce sales at your farm stands.

Q: I want to know more about what’s expected of teachers in this program.

A: Absolutely! Click here to see a breakdown of our expectations for teachers in each year of the program.

Other questions? Please email help@schoolyardroots.org.

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