South Orangetown Central School District

Spring has sprung and gardening programs are in full bloom across SOCSD! William O. Schaefer Elementary and Cottage Lane Elementary have each implemented gardening programs providing students with hands-on experience as they learn about and care for seeds and plants. Throughout each school year, our young gardeners engage in curriculum-aligned activities ranging from watering seedlings to digging and weeding.

At WOS and CLE, students learn the basics of sowing, watering, weeding and transplanting in the garden beds at WOS and the outdoor classroom at CLE. Plantings include lettuce, kale, carrots, mustard greens, broccoli, snap peas, rosemary, lavender, corn, beans and squash. Backed by the dedicated work of K-8 Instructional Science Coach Samantha Levine, Special Education teacher Heidi Hill and parent volunteer Tracy DeFeciani — and support from SOCES PTA — the elementary school gardens are continuously being upgraded through the routine delivery of new soil, the introduction of new plants and ample TLC.

During a recent visit to the WOS garden, Lauren Grillo’s kindergartners sketched their own interpretations of plants they observed in the garden beds and took turns watering a variety of seeds. Meanwhile at CLE, fourth-graders in Jaime Sainz’s science class in the garden, students removed old roots from garden beds to make way for new seeds. “Students truly love the time in the garden, as it differs from their normal classroom curriculum,” says Levine. “They enjoy being outdoors in the sunshine and getting involved hands-on.”

Elementary school boy taking notes in garden