The Pole Garden – Collaborative ALL SCHOOL

Talk about accomplishments.

Last Spring, my school participated in an arts-focused collaborative installation project that I am incredible proud of.  First off, it took effort – but was it worth it? Yes.

Part One: Staff Development.  My principal agreed to let the Arts Specialists lead four days of Professional Development focused on bring the Creative Process into classrooms.  Imagine, Experiment, Create, Refine, Reflect.  Staff participated in this, going through each step-by-step and using the Pole Garden as their foundational project.  As a staff, we brainstormed ideas and themes present at Findley – we illustrated them with drawings and words and pooled them together to iron out the details – how many poles would we need, how much space, etc.  We ended up with 11 poles and 100s of ideas ready to go.

Part Two:  Write the grant.  I wrote a grant to a local organization and recieved $1,500 in funding to purchase the Cedar Poles, Cedar Caps, Wood Burners, External House Paint.  This was the life saver.

Part Three: Leadership Group.  I worked with the guidance counselor to pick a group of students that would focus on leadership qualities they wanted to build.  They made goals and participated in exercises and grew as individuals.  In the end, their participation and success fueled their leadership on this project by making sure it was completed, that materials were accounted for and that the installation was a success.

Part Four: Brainstorming with students.  Students participated in the same portion of the brainstrorming and planning as the staff.

Part Five: Creation After transferring all the staff ideas and student ideas to each designated pole and their theme, staff helped wood burn the images into the wood to add some dimension.  After wood burning the images, students and staff used art class and after school time to paint and complete the poles.

Part Six: Installation.  The leadership group helped install the poles into the grounds at school but the district grounds department helped the most.  This was awesome!

Every single student participated in this project in some capacity.  Every single staff member participated in this project in some capacity.  And it is a staple of our school.

A big concern by staff was the respect it would need to be shown.  Our school is not in a neighborhood known for prestige, if you know what I mean. But our students were so invested in this project by the end of the year, that this summer – there were NO issues.  And there continues to be no issues.  In fact, we had no graffiti this summer, either.  Students spent the summer protecting it.  How do I know? I’d stop by and they’d flat out tell me they check on it day to day.  During the school year, this year, students have taken to weeding out the garden and cleaning up any wood chips that moved due to rain or wind.  Families living near by have stated how colorful the school looks now.  It was a huge success.






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