Bretzfelder Series: Gardens & Maple at Bethlehem Elementary
We invite the community to learn from school staff about their students' connections to local agriculture as part of this summer’s Bretzfelder Park Family Education Lecture Series, presented by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the Bretzfelder Park Committee.
Paraprofessional Carole Bays will speak about the school’s community gardens and teacher Bryan Smith will speak about the maple project.
Location: Bethlehem Elementary School
Registration: Free; no registration required!
The community gardens, which consist of 16 beautiful, raised beds, were built four years ago behind Bethlehem Elementary school near the baseball field. Due to Covid, they were abandoned, and weeds overtook them.
Eight students enjoyed spending three hours, three days a week caring for the gardens. They also picked up garbage along the trails, made a beautiful garden, built scarecrows, and built a hugel garden bed, which is a Norwegian garden. The students also learned about the importance of pollinators, composting, and food waste. The garden club donated all the harvest: potatoes and carrots to the community suppers.
As a result of the success of the garden club, more students wanted to join as well as teachers. The Garden Club now has about 40 students and four teachers participating in the Bethlehem Elementary Community Garden Club. The Club meets twice a week and boasts a structured curriculum.
The goal with the Maple Program is to foster a sense of environmental stewardship in Bethlehem Elementary students. The program blends the use of modern technology as well as ancient practices dating back to early Native Americans. The program creates an authentic learning environment incorporating literacy, mathematics, science and engineering practices, all while fostering a sense of community and collaboration across grade levels and creating an excitement for learning.
During the 2022 sugar season, 20 Sugar Maples and two Red Maples were tapped behind Bethlehem Elementary. Older grade level students partnered with younger grades for sap collection during the season and learned a little bit about measuring volume and related math in the process. They also learned important social skills in the process
About the Presenters:
Carole Bays has been a paraprofessional at Bethlehem Elementary School for eight years over the past fifteen years. She studied child psychology while attending Champlain Regional College and earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Carole does not have any formal education in horticulture, but gardening is in her genes. When the community gardens needed a caretaker, her passion for gardening and working with children was a dream come true.
Bryan Smith has been teaching for nineteen years and currently teaches students with emotional/ behavioral disabilities and enrichment programs around science. A 2019 recipient of the Presidential Award in Science and Math Teaching, he believes it is through scientific inquiry and the engineering process that students are best able to access the kinds of authentic and meaningful learning that build enduring cross curriculum understanding.
Owned by the Forest Society (www.forestsociety.org), Bretzfelder Park is managed in cooperation with the town of Bethlehem. The Park, bequeathed to the Forest Society in 1984 by Helen Bretzfelder in memory of her father, Charles, houses a classroom, educational trails, a pond and several picnic sites.
Two series of educational programs are held at The Park each year, one in August and the other in February/March. The Bretzfelder Family Educational Series will continue on Wednesday, August 17 with a bike into nature program.