The Green Leaf February Addition, Vol. 2, #1
Green Academy Newsletter 2.8.21
A year ago, I wrote my first installment of the Green Leaf, the Green Academy Newsletter. Little did I know how much would change and how a monthly newsletter would soon become a single entry for an entire year.
We have a new faculty member! Jack Jeansonne is our new Green Academy educator. He replaced Maia Chambers. Maia left to assist her husband in his Realty business.
Jack is an amazing educator. He taught 8th grade science last year here at Small. We pulled him over because we feel he fits in with us perfectly! He already has a vast knowledge of native plants and animals. He has multiple snakes in his classroom. He has even bred them in the past! He is very handy. Jack sponsors the Dungeons and Dragons club and the newspaper club. He coaches boys Soccer. He has an art degree and is regularly making art, building frames, and building models by hand. Jack has jumped in with both feet and is already taking students out daily and has started installation on a Milkweed garden. We are happy to have him as an addition!
Spring is usually a busy time of the year. This year everything seems to just be calm outside. Nature is doing what it does. It feels weird but feels right. We are maintaining, but in small groups. We are installing, but only on a finite scale.
We did work on some projects already this year. Through community support and the Living Tree Crowdfunding program we were able to build an outdoor learning space with room for up to 40 (non-social distanced however.) It includes picnic tables and the supports for sunshades.
A new mural was finished on the second floor welcoming all to “Cougar Country” and featuring some iconic imagery.
We built an outdoor sitting space on our nature trail. We attempted to not use nails and screws but vandals made it to where we had no choice. We removed some over grown trees that were damaging older Oaks, many invasives, and then harvested cedar for most of the seating.
Like I said, projects are small and more personal, but sometimes that’s just the way it needs to feel to make those better connections.
We are still in the process of finishing our Firewise Garden. We need to install the signage and continue to care for the trees and plants in the area.
Due to the structure of the Green Academy, we are always working to find ways to fund our projects and innovations. Austin ISD and Small MS have always been supportive of our program. However, beyond our salaries the district and the school provide little to no funding to our program.
We are in a constant need of funding. We have 4 educators that have amazing ideas and plans. We are unceasingly searching and applying for grants opportunities. Many other schools are now moving into Environmental education. This is wonderful for the field, but makes it much harder to find a steady source of funds.
Student Lab Fees are used to support small projects and replace basic resources.
For the life of the Academy we have had a biannual plant sale. Our last sale was on March 12 and 13, just before we all quarantined. We have continued to hope school would go back to something more traditional, sadly we haven’t.
This year we are going to try and have another Market Day. Ms. Chambers had students create handmade products to be sold to the community. Students created products like paper embedded with wildflowers, candles, bat boxes, etc. We plan on allowing students to complete this project again, as a chance to replace assignments.
Students and Faculty at school have been working hard to create all natural soap. We have branded it “Clint’s Small Batch Handmade Soaps”. The link to the order form is below. We used a standard natural formula consisting of olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil and lye. In a few bars we added goat’s milk. The additions to each batch changed including sea salt, oatmeal, charcoal, herbs, citrus peel, and various essential oils.
The all natural handmade soap will be available the week of March 8. It will be available for pick-up, sent home with students, or available to be shipped for a small fee.
Funding will obviously go towards funding staff and student projects. To help assist in all of our projects, we are also beginning to set aside funding for a Green Academy trailer. Since we do not have a truck, the next best thing will be a trailer for transporting animals, plants, and supplies from hardware stores. If you would like to help more specifically with this project please contact me regarding donations. firstname.lastname@example.org
Please remember to support all of our campus programs. Also please visit our Small Gardens blog, www.insmallgardens.blogspot.com, and our Instagram account, @insmallgardens.