Next, Sonya began to spread her school garden message beyond the walls of Bullock School. She is leading the expansion of the garden education initiative to all the schools in the Glassboro School District and serves as a mentor for several New Jersey schools to assist them in creating school gardens. Most recently, Sonya has established The Bullock Garden Project, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to to assist schools serving large populations of at-risk, low-income students in creating garden-teaching programs.
“Our goal is to help ALL schools that want a school garden to organize, plan, and fund raise, in the ways proven successful for The Bullock Children’s Garden” Sonya explained. “I strongly believe that every school, regardless of socioeconomic demographic, should utilize garden education to inspire future farmers, landscapers, engineers, biologists, teachers… the list is infinite!”
Born and raised in Paulsboro, New Jersey, Sonya received her BSEd in Special Education at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing her MAEd in Teacher Leadership at Rider University, in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She has 20 years of teaching experience and has been teaching at Bullock School for the past 12 years.
“I am enthralled by and marvel at the benefits school gardening can have in schools,” said Sonya, who has been independently researching and studying the impact of echopsychology on children. She hopes to become more involved in research on the long-term benefits of school gardening. “My goal is to work with the state of New Jersey to ensure that every New Jersey school has a self-sufficient garden!”
Another of Sonya’s goals for the Bullock Children’s Garden is that it becomes a hub for the community and neighbors from nearby low-income housing to harvest organic produce for their families, in order to reduce the effects of the surrounding food desert many of her students live within. To this end, she has forged successful partnerships with the New Jersey Agricultural Society, New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food & Nutrition, Rutgers University Family & Community Health Services Grow Healthy Program, the Jersey Fresh Farm-to-School Program, and the local FoodCorps. She is continually working to build partnerships to create inspirational experiences for her students and to establish a garden bridge between the school, home, and community
“When we plant these seeds in the lives of our children, the harvest society will reap is filled with endless possibilities!” said Sonya. For the passion she brings to school gardening and her efforts to spread this passion throughout the state, the New Jersey Agricultural Society is proud to name Sonya Harris its 2018 Teacher of the Year.
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