Students across the country are struggling academically during the pandemic, and educators are also observing troubling changes in their mental health and social-emotional wellbeing.
Alliance Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Health Services Academy (PBS-HSA), a charter public high school located at 8515 Kansas Ave., is offering its students social emotional support, helping them build leadership skills and creating a sense of connection and belonging through community gardens.
“Changes in behavior often call for disciplinary approaches, but we chose instead to use creative ways to uplift our students, help them heal and build community, and the garden was one of those ideas,” said Zonz Ouattara, who is the principal in residence at PBS-HSA. “We are making sure that all scholars feel seen and heard. We believe that this matters just as much as having strong instructional practices.”
Student body members care for the plants and take the lead in the garden’s design and growth. Teachers, scholars and parents are welcomed to participate in the effort aimed at supporting students who are struggling academically, and affected by the constant interruptions and changes in their learning due to the pandemic.
“Growing a garden takes patience and can be healing,” said Aroldo Aguilar, Dean of School Culture “It requires selecting the right plants and soil that can grow in the existing environment, building a raised flower bed and knowing how much water, shade and sun delicate seedlings will require. Students who care for the gardens become responsible for other living beings.”
For more information about the program or for interviews, call (818) 943-2481 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.