When Dreams Take Root – DMS Sustainable Garden

Kathy Mavity holds a large check for $2,500 with Marathon Oil employees.

By: Kathy Mavity, Dickinson Middle School 6th Grade Teacher

At Marathon Oil, unconventional thinking means constantly looking for new ways to solve problems and deliver results. As part of the company’s investment in building stronger communities through education, they have created a grant program to support teachers who are bringing this same unconventional thinking to the classroom.

Our building administrator shared the grant opportunity with us, and I reflected on how we, as teachers, used all sorts of unconventional methods to reach students as we taught virtually. To reach my students last year, I used virtual whole class morning meetings, cooking with Kathy, show-and-tell with your pet, and Kahoots (online quiz games).  After completing 2020 teaching, I felt confident that I could do anything I put my mind to. When the opportunity to write for this grant came up, I knew I wanted to take a dream and see it to fruition.

I was blessed and honored to receive an “Unconventional Teaching” grant from Marathon Oil Corporation in October 2021, to support the purchase of classroom resources, books, activity/lab materials, and technology, to implement a sustainable garden at Dickinson Middle School.

Student interest in hands-on technology coupled with a mechanics unit in science that is devoted to building working machines, brought about this hefty goal.  Students helped me brainstorm ways we could learn to be self-sufficient and still help others which led us to the idea of a sustainable garden.  With careful planning and a firm foundation, our students could design, build, care for, and follow them as they transition through middle school.

Our DMS team can work together to purchase materials and construct raised movable garden beds, purchase plants, herbs, fertilizer, soil, and any of the unforeseen items that go along with building and operating a sustainable garden.

Our cooks could use the herbs and vegetables grown by the children to enhance our school lunches.  Excess food items could be delivered to the local food pantry, demonstrating the value and importance of community outreach.

Our science, math, and literacy teams could use this idea as a PBL (project-based learning) unit, and students would be able to put their learning to a real-world use.  Students could work in teams to create the growing beds, tend to the plants, harvest, and understand weather conditions and pesticides along with plant needs.  I am very excited to collaborate with my colleagues, implement the plan, and see where the sustainable garden at DMS takes us.