Learning Comes to Life at Daly Academy Therapy Garden

Daly Academy, in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, is blooming. Thanks to generous donations of time, talent and resources, the Student Therapy Garden has been revived, replanted and ready for students’ hands-on learning. The working garden was formally rededicated at a recent “Garden Party” attended by students and their families, donors, volunteers, and dignitaries including Mayor Cheryl Cox.

“Our garden serves as a source of therapy in a variety of ways: a safe place to relax and talk; a busy place to engage in hands-on work, an intriguing place full of mysteries to discover,” said Dr. Yesenia Barnard, Daly Academy principal.

Students worked in the garden one time per week, with access to garden time on a daily basis. Weekly lessons were tailored to enhance the classrooms’ curriculum: in language arts, social studies, science and math.

Barnard said the rededication of the garden was a way of saying “Thank You” to all who helped make this possible.

As part of the event, students presented their projects, which included pinecone bird feeders, herbal sachets and soaps, scarecrows, dioramas, musical instruments, terrariums as well as performing their own skits and songs.

“Our students have been engaged in hands-on learning projects aligned with the Common Core curriculum in English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, Listening and Speaking skills,” Barnard said. “The topics learned were photosynthesis, the impact of bees on the environment, everyday uses for plants, life cycles of plants, art history, topography, the use of plants in Revolutionary War battles, mathematical patterns found in nature and much more.”

The garden includes a succulent and drought-tolerant area, an aromatic herb and lavender garden, flowers and vegetables from seedlings and young plants, and fruit trees. The garden also includes harvest apples, peaches, nectarines and oranges. Students care for the trees and plants as part of a therapeutic approach to behavior management and academic motivation.

Daly Academy is a behavioral support program that serves grades K-6, providing a positive school environment that nurtures students by focusing on their strengths and interests through a therapeutic experience within an educational setting, with the goal of learning to work cooperatively through self-monitoring techniques that help them successfully manage their emotions, learn social skills, improve relationships with peers, authority figures and family members.

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