Mary Robidoux teaches at the Hallsville Elementary School in Manchester. When not at school she raises free range chickens and is an avid composter and gardener. Mary has brought those interests to her school where she founded a Gardening Club for the students. Through that program, students compost food waste from the cafeteria and grow their own vegetables and flowers at the school garden. Mary has taught the students how to collect seeds and cultivate them. Raising plants from seed to harvest enables the students to put into practice science process skills, math applications, writing techniques, and other integrated topics. Mary’s students have had many first hand opportunities to learn about environmental stewardship as they discover how to care for plants and their patch of ground.
This project is not just something Mary jumped into because of the trendiness of school gardens. She started with a compost bin in her classroom over 10 years ago and used the end product for nourishing plants around the front walkway of the school.
Her ability to create hands-on gardening experiences for urban children was enhanced by the grant funding she was awarded. Mary also engaged AmeriCorp crews and the City of Manchester Highway Department and other community partners to assist with establishing the garden.
In addition to the garden, Mary uses eggs from her chickens to conduct an incubation and chick development unit with her students. She is a thrifty recycler of cast offs and “wastes”. From garden kneelers made out of newspapers and old plastic table clothes to making light tables out of donated materials Mary promotes social responsibility and wise use of natural resources.
The physical grounds at Hallsville are greatly enhanced by her passion, innovation and commitment to sustainability. Mary inspires her colleagues as well as the children and the Hallsville School community through her work.