The Remarkable Greenhouse Project at Hickerson Elementary

by | Oct 2023

HICKERSON ELEMENTARY embarks on a project of sowing seeds of inspiration, leaving a lasting impact on students and the community. A dedicated and passionate teacher, Michelle Mullican, leads the Greenhouse Project, blossoming into a symbol of growth and learning, nurturing dreams, and sowing seeds of inspiration for future generations.

The idea to establish a greenhouse on the school’s property emerged after Hickerson Elementary was honored with a prestigious STEM designation. Angela Ridner’s grant played a vital role in making this dream a reality, offering hands-on agricultural experiences to the children.

The greenhouse swiftly became the heart of the school’s learning experiences, immersing the children in a world of discovery and exploration. Mullican pours her heart and soul into this green oasis while guiding pre-K and coordinating all greenhouse projects.

Michelle Landers emerges as an inspiration, captivating young hearts with her skilled approach to gardening, where hands-on learning takes root and practical application blossoms. Dr. Kathy Crabtree’s unwavering support for all greenhouse endeavors allows the children’s imagination to roam freely.

Dr. Crabtree’s vision transformed the greenhouse into a sought-after school field trip destination. Last year, they hosted two school field trips, and in the future, Hickerson Elementary aspires to welcome even more groups eager to explore agriculture with community support.

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

Fearlessly embracing their roles as heroes, the students tackle every challenge with confidence. A pivotal moment arrived with a school-wide Project-Based Learning initiative led by fourth grade students. Survey results expressed a heartfelt desire for new playground equipment, but funding was a concern. The students organized highly successful plant sales by cultivating and selling plants, garnering attention from educators and community members.

Generous community partners offer resources and expertise, transforming the greenhouse into a thriving hub of growth and knowledge. Beyond academics, the children acquire valuable life lessons, developing responsibility, teamwork, and community spirit.

Reflecting on the Luffa Project, Mullican said, “We’re constantly talking about a real-world application. They just enjoy doing grown-up things. We talk to them about real-world applications, projects, and problems. And I also talked to them about the different kinds of jobs involved in this. For instance, with the labor project, we talk about how they can become farmers and grow luffa.”

She continued, “We constantly try to keep that in their minds and remind them that this isn’t just some random project. It has a purpose, and this is what the purpose is right now. And not only does it have a purpose for us right now, as Hickerson Elementary, but whenever you grow up, you might make luffa bar soap in an industrial setting or even just at the local farmers market.”

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

The Hawkhouse, as the greenhouse is affectionately known, is a collaborative effort that instills a deep sense of ownership and responsibility among the students. The community’s support warms the heart, providing materials and expertise and beautifying the front of the Hawkhouse.

Mullican said, “Without our community partners, I don’t think we would have been as successful. I’m truly amazed at the support that not just the Hickerson community, but Coffee County in general, has given us. At least a couple of times a week, people come dropping stuff off for us at school. It might be plants, it might be pots, or it might be potting soil, but everybody’s willing to help.”

Throughout the year, plant sales raise funds for various initiatives, supporting crop cultivation showcased at the county fair. Students learn the art of cultivating crops together, forging a strong bond between young minds and the kitchen that nourishes them. They delve into projects like composting and the unique Luffa Project, which showcase the versatility of plants.

As the Hawkhouse project flourishes, the students eagerly anticipate a future, filled with new ideas and projects, promising fresh avenues of growth and learning.

Hickerson Elementary is a testament to the power of community, education, and hands-on experiences. The transformative journey of the students is nurtured by the dedication and support of teachers, parents, and local partners creating a bright and promising future for generations to come. Their unwavering determination and collaborative spirit prove that with grit and determination, anything is possible.

“Our community partners are our heroes. It has been an amazing thing. And God has been in it the whole time. And he’s taking care of us,” Mullican expressed. “You don’t see the community get involved with a lot of schools and teachers anymore, but it happens at Hickerson. Our kids are heroes of the community. Through a variety of projects, they provide plants and agricultural products for their community.” GN

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