In a first-time partnership, two hands-on classes at Exeter Township High School collaborated to build raised garden beds to provide vegetables and herbs for culinary classes and to eventually sell to teachers and staff. The classes included Jonathan Rugg’s Residential Systems Maintenance class, which is offered to high school students as a 90-day elective, and Melissa Losito’s CrossRoads Transition Program, which is offered to Exeter students with disabilities 18-21 years old. Losito’s program provides students real-life work experiences in the community through vocational skill training, exploration and employment shadowing to prepare for the transition from student to adult life. Through her program, Losito also offers her students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurial opportunities, such as making, delivering and selling coffee and salads for high school teachers and staff throughout the school year. Additionally, her students have in-school jobs to gain employment skills–the latest of which is the courtyard beautification project at the high school, in which they’re working to turn a brick landscape into green and usable space to grow vegetables and herbs, and to create an inviting and welcoming space for both students and staff.
Rugg’s Residential Systems Maintenance class offers students the opportunity to learn skills related to being a future homeowner with a focus on maintaining and fixing home construction issues. Students are introduced to framing, roofing, painting/finishing, hanging drywall, foundations and electrical and plumbing systems. As part of the course, students build a storage shed, so Rugg knew their newly-acquired planning and building skills would translate well into the garden bed project when Losito approached him and his class for help.
Although both classes focus on real-world and hands-on experiences, the garden beds were the first time that their classes collaborated on a project together. But Rugg said it certainly won’t be the last: “I am proud of how well our students worked together and very impressed with my students’ ability to follow directions and work independently to meet the needs of another teacher. I really look forward to more opportunities in the future where our students can collaborate to provide real-world experiences—especially ones that include entrepreneurial opportunities and skills.”