Mention W.R.Coile Middle School, and many locals will say they’ve never heard of it. But here it is, located on forty-six acres about a mile and a half north of Winterville. Approximately 650 students are bused each day from diverse urban settings out to this rural site, and when they’re here the school campus is a-buzz with outdoor learning.
Our students come from resilient but vulnerable settings. But by giving them new skills to build on and encouraging wonder, hope and vision, we help Coile Cougars grow into socially responsible adults that work to improve the quality of life-economically, socially, and environmentally.
On any given day, students in Mr. Burrell’s Ag.Science class are busy working in the greenhouse, woodworking projects, planting gardens around the school campus, and practicing entrepreneurship in their FFA projects, where a token economy enables them to make ‘FFA Dollars’ that go toward attending Camp in the summer.They also planted several gardens around the are Ms. Allen’s FCS class does lots of cooking and will be harvesting herbs this fall from a garden just outside their classroom.
A very unique and successful program called Coile Serves that has been facilitated by Kelli Bivins since 2012 strives to educate and empower students with a focus on sustainability and entrepreneurship. When Americorps VISTA Brendan Nordgren came on board as a school garden specialist last March, she was no stranger to the school, having completed a practicum there previously and signing on board to assist Bivins with the program. They have participated in storytelling projects, taken field trips to New Echota State Park, and even hiked five miles to sleep in the Len Foote Hike Inn and learned about sustainable living. Most recently they were awarded a Monarchs Across Georgia Pollinator Garden grant through the Rosalyn Carter Butterfly Trail initiative.
Upon her arrival at Coile last spring, Ms.Nordgren planned and tilled a 1600 sq ft garden modeled after that of Clarke Middle School. With the support of the school, a veggie garden will be planted later this year, and students and faculty will have the opportunity to learn and grow with the garden. In addition, we believe in tapping into the strengths of our families and neighbors to help change ‘school as institution’ to a thriving community center for the arts based on sustainable practices.
The great and greater Athens Community is welcome and invited to help make our school a better place. For more information on how to volunteer, contact Brendan Nordgren at email@example.com.
See you in the garden!
Sixth grade students in Ms.Bivins’ ESOL class participated in a year-long study about pollinators. Here they are planting milkweed seeds that were overwintered in the refrigerator!
With a lot of hard work by Coile students and with the support of the PSO and other community allies, this garden now hosts butterflies, bees, birds and other pollinators that beneficially impact our lives. It’s just starting, come by and see what community building can do!