It may be summer and there are fewer kids in school buildings, but things are not slowing down for Lacey Spring Elementary School and Principal Tammy May. And anyone who knows May knows that she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Summer school kicked off at Lacey Spring on Monday, and 62 students from Lacey Spring and Linville-Edom Elementary School are busy learning and exploring. There is no space at school more beloved and regularly occupied than the ever expanding garden space behind the school. The two dozen or more beds, made out of anything from planters to tires to filing cabinets, are overflowing with all manner of edibles.
Every day, students arrive for summer school, and the first place they want to go is the garden, May said.
“This is entirely student led. They do the planting. They do the weeding,” she said. Students get water from the rain barrel in the school’s agriculture zone, which also includes compost pens. It’s pretty typical for students to ask a teacher if they can snack on the seemingly endless supply of cherry tomatoes.
“I had one little Linville-Edom boy say to me he wished he could come to Lacey,” May said.
The outdoor setup at the school is unique. When May arrived at the school four years ago as principal, the sprawling campus was pretty much unused for anything but playground space. Now, along with the garden, there is an arboretum, a green house, a shed full of bikes and helmets, and soon there will be a wind turbine.
May, a lover of grant-writing, wrote one this past year for the turbine, which was accepted. May has been working with Excel Steel Works to have a pole fabricated that the turbine will be mounted on. The turbine will be used to supply power to a water fountain on the school campus.
Along with the turbine, a weather station will also be installed that will include a water gauge, a thermometer and other apparatuses to measure atmospheric pressure, rainfall and more.
“We’ve got a lot going on here, and it provides such great learning,” May said.
The work going at Lacey Spring to provide agriculture and learning experiences has been a team effort, both with other teachers at the school and the community. Glenhaven Greenhouses has supplied most of the plants and seeds for the garden, and teacher Phil Satolli has been recognized at the state level for his ag work with students. The Spotswood Garden Club has also been instrumental in providing resources for the school, May said.
The campus at Lacey Spring will continue to grow. May has no plans to slow down.