The Independent Living Skills (ILS) class, taught by Susan Price, is working to improve two of the gardens on campus. Along with fixing the garden near E-25, Price and her class are also working to take the weeds and dead grass out of the garden near C-0. Price said that through the process of redoing the garden, “we give them real-life skills.”
The garden near C-0 was originally a native grass garden started by Jeff DeCurtins, the former M-A physics teacher who left two years ago. Price said she is looking to “not make too many changes. We want to kind of maintain what it was, pull out all of the weeds, clean it up, maybe re-gravel it. The project is more like bringing it back to where it was, restoring it.” She further explained that she wants to add benches and tables for students, as well as a few cacti on the edge of the garden.
Price explained that her students each have different jobs in the project. “It just depends on the student. Some love restoring the tables, some dig around a lot and get things straightened out, others can sit in one spot for hours and cut weeds without moving very far.”
Sophomore Maia Begovic usually rakes or cuts out the weeds and old grass to help clean up the garden. Maia explained “I definitely enjoy working in the garden. I feel like I learn how to work hard.”
Another student, senior Uriel Suarez Cortez, said working in the garden has taught him how to care for plants and to remove the ones that are not needed. Suarez Cortez usually spends his time taking out the weeds and he says his favorite part about working in the garden is that he gets to “see the plants, and the insects up-close, like the bees and other bugs will go flying around.”
The class began its work in the garden three weeks ago, after facilities manager Brian Oliver suggested the project for Price. Price has been doing projects like this since she began working at M-A fourteen years ago, with the ultimate goal of helping her students to develop their skills outside of the classroom.
Price said she enjoys these projects that beautify the school because she loves that she can spend time outdoors, in the sun, and can teach her students different skills. She also addressed the development she has seen in her students and how the hands-on work they do has helped them. “I like seeing how far they’ve come. A year ago I wouldn’t have trusted these kids with the tools they are using, but now I trust them.”
“We’re all learning and we’re all getting out,” Price added, “We’re all in the sun and we work as a team. And that’s an important part of it, the work we do, we do it as a team.”