Childs Elementary Sustainability Program

Program Type: 
Garden Classrooms, Kitchen Classrooms, School Cafeterias, Support Organization
Grade Level/Age Group: 
Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary
Number of Individuals Program Serves: 
About the Program: 


The Mission of the Childs Elementary PTO Sustainability Committee located in Bloomington, IN, is divided into four parts: 
1. To reduce the ecological impact/footprint of each child, student, staff, neighborhood and community member who use the building and grounds at Childs Elementary School.  
2. For each child, student, staff, neighborhood and community member to leave the building and grounds better than when they found it.
3. To become a Monroe County, South Central Indiana, and eventually a midwest hub of school sustainability and gardening best practices for the purposes of sharing and spreading the ‘how-to’ and confidence to other school sustainability and gardening advocates.
4. To forge partnerships with community gardening and sustainability experts for the benefit of all interested parents, teachers and staff members. 

One of initial ways that we are meeting our mission is through our school garden (vegetable, prairie, butterfly and new rain garden - as of May 2018) program which encompasses cafeteria waste reduction practices through a 12-bin worm composting system and rainwater collection system.

The gardening values that we are trying to instill in the students are as follows:
1. To develop a love, joy and passion for gardening. 
2. To have a nurturing, safe environment to try new foods that they would either not have access to or refuse to eat at home.
3. To learn how, and gain the confidence and pride to grow their own food
4. To understand where food comes from, the effort that it takes, and the responsibility that they have for the entire life cycle of the food.
5. To understand the roll and vital importance of pollinators and how to work comfortably with and around them. 
6. To use resources wisely

The Mission of Childs Elementary School is to develop internationally minded lifelong learners who collaborate in order to understand, celebrate and impact our interconnected global community. An enriched environment is created through challenging curriculum, intercultural lines of inquiry and authentic assessment focused on the whole child.


We currently have 533 students enrolled, 26 teachers, and over 30 other adult staff on our campus. Our PTO Sustainability Committee has 30 families involved and continues to grow with each new project and garden day that we host. While Childs student population is culturally diverse and parent involvement is strong, it is not as diverse socio-economically as other schools in our school district. So, one of the goals of our program is to share what we are learning and help other schools in our district who have 50-80% of their student populations on free and reduced lunches and little parent involvement because they are working two to three jobs. We have just started to create partnerships (such as Educational Community Rain Garden est. May 2018) with these other schools, local gardening resources and government departments to broaden the population that we serve.


The IB (International Baccalaureate program is an inquiry-based educational framework that seeks to develop the whole child, in that it recognizes the importance of the academic, social, emotional, cultural and physical development of children. While the learning of information is still a major part of the IB program, an emphasis is placed on the process of learning and students’ awareness and understanding of how to learn. As they develop into lifelong learners, students realize that learning is about being curious, asking questions and finding answers that lead to further questions. This process of learning, as well as the curiosity of our students, can be fostered in our school garden through planning, planting, tending, harvesting, cooking, sharing, eating, composting, and reflecting upon experiences made while in the garden. 

The IB maintains a learner profile of specific skills that schools must develop in students at every level of IB which has a positive impact on school culture. The IB Learner Profile seeks to develop students into individuals who are inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced and reflective. The goal of  IB programmes, according to the International Baccalaureate Organization, is to “develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.” Developing lifelong learners who are positive contributors to society is something many schools strive to achieve. What better way to fulfill this vision than through a school gardening program? We believe that the IB program and The Edible Schoolyard Project go hand in hand.