Green Our Planet Family Spotlight: Cindy Abel 🌻

“My third graders have loved the programming around the environment. They are very aware of what’s going on in the world. So whenever I bring in a lesson, that always brings in that component of thinking about the environment, how these changes are impacting not only plants and animals, but themselves. They get very excited about thinking about all these different ideas and also thinking about solutions.”

Meet Cindy Abel! She is a passionate and hard-working teacher at Hinman Elementary School who has a school garden program from Green Our Planet. In this interview, Cindy shares the impact her school garden has had on her students, her experience with Green Our Planet and Green Our Planet’s teacher trainings.

What is your name?
My name is Cindy Abel. I am a third grade teacher at Hinman Elementary in Henderson, Nevada.

What drew you to Green Our Planet?
Last year I was part of the gardening committee at my school, and this year I became co chair. And I was really excited to be a part of Green Our Planet. I really love our school garden. I love the opportunities and experiences it gives our students.

How has your experience with Green Our Planet been?
My experience with Green Our Planet has been awesome. I love all the different resources that it provides me that I can use in my classroom. They are all very easy to use, easy to to implement, and my kids love them. I’ve been able to be a part of the chef demonstrations online. We’ve had Ask the Farmer Days both in person and online. And it’s something that has just been really fantastic, not only for me as a teacher, but especially for my students.

How have your students reacted to the programming around the environment?
My third graders have loved the programming around the environment. They are very aware of what’s going on in the world. So whenever I bring in a lesson, that always brings in that component of thinking about the environment, how these changes are impacting not only plants and animals, but themselves. They get very excited about thinking about all these different ideas and also thinking about solutions.

Why are you a teacher / why did you choose to go into teaching?
I have always wanted to be a teacher. I did a bit of a detour. I had two careers before I started my teaching career. I love being around the kids. I love watching them as they learn and as they grow. I just think it’s a privilege for me to be able to be in this profession.

What did you learn from the Teacher Training?
I learned so much from the teacher training. Every session there was something new, actually, more than just one thing. Many things that I could take into the classroom with me and use with my students. I love learning how I could incorporate the garden into our everyday lessons. Not just science, but math and English language. All of this was so interesting to me. I’ve managed to incorporate many of these things in the classroom.

I’ve done math lessons in the garden. We’re very fortunate to have a whiteboard in our garden, so that’s very helpful. I’ve done the various vegetable tastings with my kids and they loved it. Some of them didn’t like the veggies, but they enjoy tasting new things. I really want to start doing nature journaling with them. That’s something that I learned from the teacher training that I’m really interested in implementing as well.

How did the Teacher Trainings impact your curriculum/students?
Having the time that we spent going through the Green Our planet curriculum was very helpful. It helped me see what was in the curriculum and what I could pull into my own science lessons. That was very impactful for me. It was very helpful. And the quality of the curriculum, not only the written curriculum, but the online videos have been very helpful. In my classroom, I’ve used both of them.

My students are super excited when they hear we’re going to do anything related to green our planet. They know that it’s going to be fun and it’s also going to be something that they’re going to learn something from that day. The curriculum has impacted me as a teacher and my students as well. They just love it.

Do you believe in the work Green Our Planet does? Why?
I definitely believe in the work Green Our Planet is doing. I feel that what Green Our Planet brings to our schools is the outdoors becoming a reality for the kids. So it provides a place where the students can go, explore, have fun, use their imaginations, and also can be a very calming place for those students when they need it. My students love going into the garden. They love spending time there. They love exploring and looking at all the new plants, looking at the seeds, looking at the flowers, looking at the trees. They love just being in that space and it just brings them a lot of joy.

And for me, I think that is the most important thing. These kids are becoming interested in our world and in our environment through this little plot of land that we have at our school. And I think that is amazing.

Would you recommend other teachers take Green Our Planet trainings? Why?
I highly recommend that other teachers take the Green Our Planet trainings. I feel like it brought so much to my classroom to have all of these resources and I know you can use these resources without taking the training. However, the training gives you that extra level of information that is important and that you can use in the classroom. I felt that the collaboration that was involved with taking the training was also important. I was very fortunate to take the training with three other teachers in my school and we all work together on these trainings and It was a great way to build relationships with these other teachers and also to get their ideas and see how they were using the garden and the curriculum in their own classrooms.

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