A kindergarten teacher in Mesa received a bit of a surprise earlier this week for a classroom project she started as part of a local celebration for Teacher Appreciation Week.
Hawthorne Elementary School teacher Diane Bamper was recognized by the Helpful Valley Honda Dealers and Guys in Blue during a school-wide event on May 5. Bamper received a slew of technological devices, art supplies, reading materials and other items for her classroom and her school.
“We are an extremely lucky campus to have a teacher like Mrs. Bamper here; she always has a smile on her face and something positive to say,” said Hawthorne Principal Stephanie Douglas-Montez.
Aside from her glowing personality, what Bamper did to earn the applause from her school and students is create what she called a “Kinder Garden” with her kindergarten students. Her students planted the seeds into the garden — surrounded by re-used tires — themselves, and the project includes a herb, flower and vegetable garden.
Bamper said the inspiration came in part from a few photos from Pinterest, and said it didn’t take too long for the kids to become “tickled to death” by what they’re doing.
“They’re loving it so much they don’t realize they’re learning,” she said.
And what her students learn encompasses a little bit of everything they’d pick up in the classroom. Bamper said they learn about recycling and reusing through the repurposing of the tires, and they receive a few science lessons through the dissection of a bell pepper and figuring out why a lima bean will grow in soil but not in a paper cup.
Montez added hands-on lessons will have a much longer lasting effect on the students than the average classroom project.
“You probably remember the experiences more than what you read on a paper and what you heard in a lecture,” Montez said.
Plus, she said, the garden project isn’t limited to that kindergarten class — Montez said the school’s sixth-grade students painted the rubber tires for the garden.
The hope is for the school community to continue to contribute to the Kinder Garden, with Bamper saying the current kindergarten students could assist with the garden next year as first-graders. Also a hope is to add to what is grown in the garden to create crops so students can make their own salsa. They took a step in that direction with peppers, so all they have to do is add some tomatoes, cilantro and maybe some chili pepper to complete their salsa experiment.
It would also require a garden that’s a bit larger than what they have, which aligns precisely with what Bamper said she wants her project to become.
“One day our garden will be huge.”
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