Applied Learning Community students, teachers and parents were among those on hand Wednesday for the project’s groundbreaking ceremony.
East Side Principal Holly Searcy said the garden’s main purpose is to promote literacy in the school and community.
She said the garden, funded with a $1,000 Jacksonville Education Foundation grant, will be used for the Daily 5 reading and writing program.
It will feature the components “read to self, read to someone, work on writing, listen to reading and work with a teacher,” she said, which could mean using little rocks to spell out words or reading to a peer, among other things.
They’ll “be outside, be in a different areas where there’s a lot of nature,” Ms. Searcy said.
“The primary purpose is to promote literacy so kids enjoy it in a different environment,” she said.
She said the reading garden is being designed by students in the Applied Learning Community — a program that focuses on providing real-world experiences and creating independent learners.
The location was chosen near the library. Now, it’s time to select the design and get materials, third-grader Amaya Mayfield told Wednesday’s crowd. Ms. Searcy said parents will work in the garden to receive service hours, give back and “dig in the dirt with their kids.”
Commemorative bricks from the old East Side are slated to be part of the garden, which is scheduled to open in May.
In the meantime, parents and children expressed their pleasure with the project.
Randy McCown, a Jacksonville ISD parent and board member, called the reading garden “a great opportunity to think outside the box as far as educating children.”
He said it keeps learning fun and helps break the monotony of being in the classroom. He said it’s also a good way to involve parents, teachers and students.
“It all works together. It’s just typical Jacksonville as far as being on the cutting edge of child enrichment,” McCown said.
East Side parent and librarian Charlotte Odom echoed McCown, saying, “It’s a wonderful day because they’re able to take reading outside instead of inside … and enjoy nature while they’re reading a book.”
She added, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be able to see science and reading.”
Fourth-grader Kylie McCown said she looks forward to coming out to the garden and “getting to be outside.” She said she has thought about the possibility of sitting against a brick wall, with flowers near her, reading a book.
Amaya said, “I’m really just looking forward to getting out in the nature.”