MAITC Teacher of the Year 2019
Lynn Snow – Thomaston Grammar School (TGS)
State & National Teacher Award
The National AITC plaque was presented in the Thomaston GS Common Ground Garden, and the sea lion in the background, also masked, was carved by Pasco Grove last September at the school garden's 10th birthday party celebration.
"The TGS Common Ground Garden and Outdoor Classroom is simply an awesome place. Here students and teachers, as well as community members, can come together to accomplish great things. The work is authentic and the learning is real. Curriculum is easily integrated and the enthusiasm is immense and infectious! Since the beginning over 300 students have experienced learning in the 5th grade school garden in my classroom. Several other teachers of various subjects have also used the garden to enrich their lessons. More than a dozen local, and not so local, businesses have contributed funding, materials and labor. Countless volunteers have given their time, expertise, and energy to this garden. This space has brought so many people together, creating "Common Ground" for all that have shared in its success! The honor of being named the 2019 MAITC Teacher of the Year is directly related to this extraordinary project. I accept this award on behalf of us all!"
- Lynn Snow
Lynn Snow, a fifth grade Science and English Language Arts teacher at Thomaston Grammar School has been named the 2019 Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year. Lynn is one of the founders of the TGS Common Ground Garden and Outdoor Classroom. The project began in 2009, was awarded one of the very first MAITC School Garden Grants funded by the Agricultural License Plate, and is celebrating its 10th year of authentic learning.
The garden is situated on the site of a long-abandoned high school ropes course that had become an overgrown, run-down section of the school grounds before Lynn and her colleagues took action. The idea started while integrating an Expeditionary Learning program at the school as a 5th grade project. The transformation through the years has been truly remarkable, and Lynn has been a driving force since day one!
Lynn is passionate about subject integration and hands-on learning. The school garden opened a new platform to a multitude of teaching opportunities for her across the curriculum. Over the years she has been a leader in the school system, integrating garden lessons into many classrooms of students. For example, she found that vermi-composting easily connects science and creative writing. The publication of "The Common Ground Gazette" gave her students the opportunity to role-play as reporters, photographers, advertising agents, editors, and publicists. Students connect math and creative arts by taking actual measurements in the garden and converting them to scale drawings in the classroom.
"Seedfolks", a book by Paul Fleischman, is read annually with her fifth graders and inspires community building, fellowship, cultural awareness, empathy and collaboration. The story is focused on the planting of a few seeds, which culminates in the revitalization of an overgrown city lot into a community garden that benefits many people.
Each spring Lynn's students open "The Common Ground Seed Company" and her classroom is converted into a business, with her students as the employees. Students learn economics, practice math skills, utilize art concepts and explore customer service in a real-life, hands-on application using seeds.
Since her classroom was previously used for Home Economics, it is equipped with a full kitchen. This is perfect to utilize the garden harvest to teach science, nutrition, and food safety concepts, while students learn about cooking from scratch! The class hosts a TGSgiving dinner before Thanksgiving as a collaborative effort of the 5th graders involved. Together they prepare and enjoy a traditional family style meal, including turkey, potatoes, carrots, applesauce and desserts.
Last year the school district RSU#13, replaced the old broken chain link fence that separates the garden from the sports fields, and a new inspiration came to Lynn, "Learning Locks". A section of the garden fence is dedicated as a space to place a padlock in memory of a life lesson, special teacher or educational milestone. The local paper ran a story, and many students, teachers and community members have already placed locks on the fence. It is not just a chain link fence anymore but a collection of memories and achievements!
This fall Lynn applied for and received a grant for a birding unit From the Georges River Education Foundation, and is currently working with her students to make the school garden more attractive to local birds throughout the year.
Lynn will represent Maine at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, June 2018 in Little Rock, AK. There she will meet teachers from across the US and be able to share her incredible story!