Rural New York students engage classroom, cafeteria, and courtyard

​​In Worcester Central School in rural New York, students are learning that everything is connected.

February 15, 2017 |

From greenhouse to plant starts to compost, an integrated, hands-on curriculum helps students connect with their school and their food.

In Worcester Central School in rural New York, students are learning that everything is connected.

A Rural Schools Collaborative Grants in Place award helped fund the school’s new Community STEM Garden and Greenhouse. Students at the elementary school collaboratively built the new greenhouse and will be using it to help grow produce that they will then use in their school cafeteria. The process begins in their STEM classroom, where they’re learning about plant growth through raising starts from seed. The young plants will eventually make their way into the greenhouse, and onto student’s plates at lunchtime.

Elementary STEM teacher Sandra Knapp’s integrated curriculum doesn’t end there - she also led students in a project where they designed and built their own composters, which they’ll use to reduce food waste from their cafeteria, turning compostable food scraps into nutrient-rich plant fertilizer for the produce being grown in the greenhouse.

We commend Ms. Knapp and her students for this creative project that connects classroom, cafeteria, and courtyard, and helps students build a connection to their school through hands-on learning experiences.


The Rural Schools Collaborative’s Grants in Place program is a modest grant program that encourages rural school district teachers across the country to engage their students in place-based learning. We believe that place-based education gives meaning to learning, strengthens the bonds between school and community, and instills pride in the cultures and histories of rural places and small towns.

Any rural public school classroom teacher can apply for a Grants in Place award! Find out more about how to apply for our 2017-18 program.

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