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'I love dirt'

Mud, shovels and worms. It’s all part of an afternoon with Riverview East Academy’s Garden Club. The Garden Club, 20 children in grades K-4, tackles the great outdoors with shovels, seeds and a lot of enthusiasm every other week. 
Riverview AcademyMud, shovels and worms. 
  

It’s all part of an afternoon with Riverview East Academy’s Garden Club. The Garden Club, 20 children in grades K-4, tackles the great outdoors with shovels, seeds and a lot of enthusiasm every other week. 

Under the creative guidance of Corina Bullock and Susie Kretzschmar of the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati they learn about nature through hands-on activities. 

Before they begin the afternoon’s work, Corina reminds them of tool etiquette. “Be very careful. Be respectful. Everyone gets a turn so don’t panic if someone is doing something you’re not,” she said. 

Garden Club members learn the different parts and functions of plants, composting, propagation and photosynthesis. They go on nature walks, plant bulbs, and paint flower pots. 

Riverview’s Garden Club grew out of community involvement. A resident and Civic Garden Center member approached the school, hoping that the students would want to use a resource right in their back yard – the East End Veteran’s Memorial Garden. 

“Our program is not just child care, it’s an academic enrichment program,” said Meg Stagnaro, CincyAfterSchool site coordinator at Riverview. 

The school’s Garden Club is one of many partnerships through Riverview’s community learning center (CLC). 

Cincinnati Public Schools’ CLCs are much more than school buildings. They offer academic programs, enrichment activities and support to students, families and community members – before and after school, during the evenings and on weekends. 

Partnerships with local businesses, community organizations like CincyAfterSchool, public agencies, the arts community and faith-based organizations bring services and resources to the school. 

A CLC becomes the heart of the neighborhood, providing opportunities for all members of the community. 

At the start of the 2006-2007 academic year, CPS launched CLCs in nine pilot schools. The plan is to expand this to all schools over the next decade. 

GCF decided to “lead by example” and commit $1 million over four years to CLCs. GCF made this grant because our schools and community are intrinsically linked. And for our region to thrive, its core city and schools must be healthy.

CLCs support public education, strengthen neighborhoods and help reduce racial disparities. 

At Riverview, the heat and humidity rise around 3:30 p.m. and the young gardeners look a little wilted. But they are no shrinking violets. They are still hard at work and intent on digging, planting and moving mulch. They work well together, this mix of boys and girls of various ages. 

A few break into a song about reading and others chime in. 

“I love dirt,” sighed Joe, a second grader. 

“I think the best thing we are able to provide through this partnership is a respect of nature and an understanding of nature,” Corina said. 

Over by the mulch pile, third grader Tyrike takes charge, telling the other children to be careful with the worms. 

He says with authority, “Remember you all, when you see a creature, put it back.” 

Caring and respect. Is there any more important lesson?

From 2006 Annual Report