Charleston County School District (CCSD) is excited to announce Baptist Hill Middle High School (BHMHS) received a Lowe’s Toolbox for Education $5,000 grant from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) to expand its garden on school grounds. The garden project is called “Horticulture at the Hill.”
Joanna Leonhardt, a former self-contained special education teacher with the middle school at Baptist Hill, was instrumental is securing the grant. She approached Principal Vanessa Brown last year about creating a garden for some of the students who have social and emotional disabilities. Leonhardt believed the children would learn behavior management skills and perform better in the classroom with a project like an outdoor garden.
“I thought if the students were able to help create a garden, help maintain it, harvest food from it, and prepare the food they harvested, they would learn new behavior skills, and gain so many positive experiences from the entire process,” said Leonhardt.
Leonhardt and Laura Manigault, another teacher at BHMHS, applied for a Clemson Extension grant in 2015, and took classes to learn about gardening and composting. Together, they were able to secure the grant, which led to the creation of garden. Then, in the Fall 2016, Leonhardt applied for the LCEF grant to “grow” the garden at Baptist Hill. Once again, she was successful, and was awarded $5,000 to expand the program.
“The children were so excited to learn about the grant,” Principal Brown explained. “They are now seeing if they try to do something meaningful, how it truly can grow in to something special. This has been and continues to be an important life and educational lesson for these students.” The money from this grant will be used to purchase a greenhouse, create several more raised garden boxes, and purchase supplies.
Leonhardt’s final day at Baptist Hill was Tuesday, January 31, 2017. She is moving with her husband to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. However, her influence will be felt for years to come through the school garden.
For information on the grant or the “Horticulture at the Hill,” please contact Principal Vanessa Brown at (843) 889-2777.