School Garden Spotlight: Small Middle School’s Green Tech Academy

Small Middle School is an AISD “Green-Tech” campus that offers students a wide variety of classes in both the environmental studies and technology areas of study. Students can choose one program or both within the Academy. Small Green Tech Academy is the first school in Texas to receive the Eco Schools USA Green Flag Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and we want to share the innovative work they are doing to promote sustainability, especially the efforts related to teaching students about growing food. Some of the class offerings related to food include; “The World Outside,” “Native Plants and Animals of Texas,” Horticulture,” Biomimicry Nature Design,” and Environmental Ethics.” Students must also complete a Capstone Independent Research class, which includes a final project and presentation.

This past week, I toured the school with Carly Surrat, the Outdoor Learning Specialist for the Green Tech Academy, and saw these teaching tools:

  • Outdoor classroom
  • 20-25 native plant and food garden beds around campus using hugelkultur, keyhole, herb spiral, and raised beds
  • 2 National Wildlife Federation Certified Schoolyard Habitats
  • 2 rain gardens
  • 2 aquatic habitats
  • 2 certified Monarch way stations and pollinator beds
  • 2 friendly goats named Jack & Andy
  • 2 young native tree groves and forest
  • Greenhouse
  • Chicken coop
  • Composting bin
  • Labyrinth fruit orchard (with almost-ripe peaches!)
  • Wildflower garden
  • Solar panel/chicken tractor
  • 500 gallon water cistern (displaying a mural painted by students)
  • Purple Martin viewing area
  • Community Garden managed by parents and students

It was an inspiration to see the variety of teaching tools used for lessons about the environment, growing food, and technology. Small Green Tech Academy provides a unique learning environment for hands-on experiential learning and applied projects, which undoubtedly will encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, and even food. We are proud to promote their efforts and say congratulations on another successful school year!

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