January 23, 2015 at 12:45pm

Dennis-Millikin Lab School Garden Honored

The City of Decatur's Historic and Architectural Site Commission awarded the "Landscape and Streetscape Award" to the Dennis-Millikin Laboratory School'€™s Community Garden Project. The award was presented during a City Council Meeting on Jan. 20 at the Decatur Civic Center. The award recognizes the vast improvement of the use of the land.
The Dennis-Millikin Laboratory School's Community Garden Project is a reflection of a successful ongoing partnership between Dennis School and Millikin University. The partnership, now in its fourth year, is designed to create a university-affiliated lab school that enhances the 21st century project-based, real-world learning for Dennis students and provide increased teacher training opportunities for Millikin education students.
Located slightly south of the northwest corner of the Wood Street and Fairview Avenue intersection, the Community Garden Project specifically demonstrates how project-based education can help revitalize the neighboring community and increase parental involvement in learning.
"The Garden Project has made a very positive impact on the West End community, and has potential to be a model elsewhere in the wider Decatur community," said Dr. Nan Gaylen, director of Millikin University's School of Education. "The Garden Project is such a visible example of how Dennis School's project-based Learning and Millikin University's Performance Learning come together to create real and tangible change."
Matt Andrews, principal at Dennis Lab School, says the Dennis Lab Learning Garden "has proved to be an excellent resource for the students. It has allowed our students access to an outdoor classroom where they are able to learn through a hands-on approach. Our students and teachers really enjoy the Millikin partnership and being able to learn from Millikin's experts. One thing that makes me proud is the overwhelming support of the Dennis Lab Learning Garden from the community."
A large portion of funding to support the Community Garden Project for the last two years has come from the PNC Foundation. The foundation provided a $20,000 grant in June 2013 to help expand the Garden into an exciting and engaging educational opportunity for families and community partners.
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture.
"The impact the garden has on the students is that it provides an alternative sight to teach," said Sue Ellen Phillips, a fourth-grade teacher at Dennis. "It is hands-on learning and real-life observation. The students love to learn outside and experience nature. It is a wonderful place to learn."
Dr. Gaylen added, "The Garden Project teaches all of us how a vision and a goal can become a beneficial asset to all community members."
To view images of the Community Garden Project, visit facebook.com/GrowingDennisLab.


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