Sensory Garden and Mindful Peace Garden

Sussex County educator Lisa Hirkaler, from the Vernon Township School District, was awarded a $10,000 continuation grant to expand a project started last year at Glen Meadow Middle School in Vernon.

The main objective was to create outdoor spaces for students during these pandemic times. All students encounter hands-on experience in the arts, landscaping, and creative planning of an inclusive space. The students also experience painting outdoors just as the impressionist painters.

Students and teachers are struggling during these difficult times and the objective of this project is to alleviate the difficulty of indoor space. Students and teachers can sit in these spaces at 6′ apart and thrive in a beautiful outdoor classroom setting.

The garden has been completely overhauled, removing overgrowth, unhealthy plants, weeding, clearing, planting new flora, and mulching to put the garden to rest for the winter. Fifteen teachers, staff, multiple students, parents, and a local greenhouse have given time, expertise, and back-breaking energy to the beautiful transformation of the Middle School sensory garden.

The student and parent response has been nothing short of moving. The most beautiful assessment of effectiveness has been the participation of students, teachers, principal, and overwhelming gratefulness of the BOE/district. Perfect evidence in practice is that students really want to spend time in these spaces, at lunch, during class, and after school. And if the community embraces these spaces with care, work, attention, commitment for their children, funds, donations from the community, and a shared sense of enjoyment, then the project is a true success.

For more information, contact:

Lisa Hirkaler, Project Coordinator
973-764-8981 (School)