Skills-based learning gives kids another chance Email
Written by Becky Garber   
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 05:00 AM

WallaceScott Wallace is an innovative teacher at an innovative school. After teaching middle school each morning, he heads to Colorado’s Finest High School of Choice in Englewood. Kids in his afternoon classes most often learn through their hands and they meet science and math requirements while getting in touch with plants and animals, almost every day.

The horticulture curriculum Wallace teaches is part of the school’s SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy) program and as the school’s name suggests, all his students are there by choice. Although based in Englewood, Colorado’s Finest accepts students from throughout the Denver area. This school may be their last chance to earn a diploma.

Wallace says his students have struggled in more traditional schools, but this hands-on program works for them. His classroom is all about applied knowledge where information and application come together one hands-on task at a time. Students learn skills that lead to real-world jobs, including jobs in landscaping, when they graduate.

The program’s beyond-walls learning lab is an expanding area on the school grounds where Wallace, school staff and volunteers are converting what was the “unofficial neighborhood dog park” into a multi-acre space that is now clean, fenced and off-limits to dogs. Kiddos grow veggies in raised beds and fruit in an orchard donated by BrightView and Arbor Valley Nursery.

There’s a chicken coop where students learn animal science and a new greenhouse this fall, thanks to a grant from Colorado Garden Foundation, where they will learn horticulture by growing plants. Soon students will be growing hops outdoors to sell to a nearby micro-brewery.

In two years, the program has moved quickly to become another flagship school in the Landscape Career Pathways program. The first two students to be employed in the industry were hired by BrightView upon graduation in spring 2018.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
DOL establishes Office of Compliance Initiatives
Revised proposed rule on overtime expected in October
Flower trials "best of" winners announced
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