Planting seeds in your minds

From left to right: Jean-Louis Dorval et Lise Nadeau, de la Caisse Desjardins de Lévis, et Gérald Charron, enseignant programme PALS de l’École St-Joseph.

Mélanie Larouche | Journalist

Why not give classroom gardening a try? It's great fun to plant some seeds, watch them grow into sprouts, then eat them on your sandwich.

Every year, Gérald Charron, 4th grade teacher at the École Saint-Joseph in Lévis, comes up with an educational project to motivate his students. In September 2015, "Monsieur Gérald" launched a new project called "Soil and light make everything right!" Not only did it delight his students and the entire school, but it also won over the jury of the Desjardins school caisse "Investing in our future" contest. 

The project
This dynamic elementary school teacher created the project to celebrate the 2015, which was declared the International Year of Soils and the International Year of Light. It was one of 2 jury favourites and won $1,000 to finance a classroom activity.

The goals
"Young people care about today's problems," Mr. Charron said proudly. "They're very aware of ecology and the environment in general. This project drew them in right away. Personally, I'm interested in anything that has to do with environmentally friendly agriculture. This project teaches young people about healthy eating habits and organic produce, and provides them with a basic financial education as they learn to prepare and stick with a budget." 

The learning
In keeping with Quebec's approach to education, Mr. Charron's project touches on many different subjects. Students used their written and spoken French when researching topics, writing guidelines and project reports, and giving presentations. Surveys and budget planning helped reinforce math skills, while weighing and counting the seedlings exercised their scientific knowledge.

"What's more, once a month, my students cook with a first grade class of special needs students. We make North American foods, garnished with micro-sprouts," he explained. "It's a great way to appreciate this nutritious food, which nourishes both their bodies and their minds! We also grew blue tomatoes in class and we planted a vegetable patch in May. Since the project lasted 10 months, students had the time to develop healthy eating habits. We also gave students the materials they needed to continue growing sprouts at home, if they wanted to."

In addition to meeting his own educational and personal goals, the passionate Mr. Gérald is sure that he's been planting the seeds of entrepreneurship in several young minds. "They figured out that to start a business, you have to know what needs you're meeting and what your values are." He continued, "From this solid foundation, you add hard work, determination and good financial management. Then, you reinvest your profits to help your business grow...  I think they understand the basic idea!"

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