When a small group of citizens and garden enthusiasts set out to resurrect the greenhouse attached to Sullivan Elementary School, their goal was to help the students. In the end, they were able to help the entire community of Holyoke.
"The impact of this project was larger than any of us anticipated," said Heather Lavigne, Director of Education and Outreach at WGBY public television and one of the creators of the Sullivan Greenhouse Revitalization Project. "It's a good reminder that sometimes with a little work, you can do amazing things."
Lavigne and the coalition of YMCA volunteers worked with Sullivan students and parents to restore the dilapidated greenhouse into a working outdoor classroom. During the year-long restoration, they provided project updates at teachers' meetings and shared a science curriculum specifically designed for the new greenhouse. The curriculum included lesson plans based on PBS broadcasts that highlighted the power of hands-on learning.
The results of the initiative were "monumental," said Lavigne, "...the teachers were amazed, the students loved learning in their new space, and the parents were excited to see something so special in their neighborhood."
In addition to the impact on the families and school educators, the Sullivan Greenhouse Revitalization Project gained citywide support and funding to sustain the activities. The coalition leveraged this support to obtain monetary contributions from the local Home Depot and other retailers.
As one parent said, "What you've done to help the Sullivan School–this is what public television is really about...making the lives better for our children and their communities."