Mention W.R. Coile Middle School and many locals will say they’ve never heard of it. Located on forty-six acres about a mile and a half north of Winterville, the school hosts approximately 650 students in grades 6-8. The school’s rural location propels the students’ interest in outdoor learning.
Upon her arrival at Coile during the 2018-2019 school year, AmeriCorp’s VISTA Mackenzie Stewart (and fellow VISTA members) tilled, mowed, and re-planted the school’s garden. Tucked behind the school and somewhat hidden by construction, the garden now boasts an impressive display of organically grown vegetables and herbs. Kale, broccoli, collards, mustard and turnip greens, beets, lemon balm, mint, and oregano are grown in the garden. All of the produce is regularly harvested for markets at Coile and other Athens-Clarke County schools. When she’s not tending to the garden, Ms. Stewart works with students to further the school’s composting and food reclamation efforts. She has also taught lessons on entomophagy, bearded dragons, and decomposers found in compost. Her goal as a VISTA is to show students the importance of sustainability, nutrition, and environmental responsibility.
Coile’s students come from resilient but vulnerable settings. However, by giving them new skills to build on and encouraging wonder, hope, and vision, the Grow It Know It program helps Coile Cougars grow into socially responsible adults that work to improve the quality of life for themselves and others.
See you in the garden!