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The greenhouse project

Learn how The Broach School initiated a green movement

When you walk into Joseph Wood’s classroom at The Broach Schools of Jacksonville’s Westcampus, it’s far from the traditional setting.

Besides the typical desks and marker board, there are a number of plants sitting around the room, hanging from the ceiling, and sunning from the light coming through the windows.

But if you asked Wood where his students learned the most, he wouldn’t even mention the classroom. Instead, he would walk outside the building and around the corner to a greenhouse both he and his students built by hand.

Grant to grasp science

Wood originally started the greenhouse project from a grant designated by the University of Florida to give Broach School students a hands-on learning environment and an alternative approach to grasp science concepts.

“Teaching is not a script. We educate and treat students as unique people, so they can become successful in direct proportion to their potential,” he said. “In the greenhouse project, we are creating a living, breathing classroom where they can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste what they are learning.”

In addition to accomplishing these goals, however, students have discovered their talents through the greenhouse project.

“Being at The Broach School has allowed me to have a hands-on experience, especially on the greenhouse project,” said Austin Martin, a ninth-grade student at Broach West. “The school has allowed me to do what I’m good at.”

“The students have gotten really excited about it,” said Darrell Lewis, director of

Broach West. “They’re working harder in their other classes to get their work done, so they can spend time in the greenhouse.”

Turning into a movement

Because of the impact of the greenhouse project at Broach West, The Broach Schools ofJacksonville turned the program into a movement both at the organization’s other campuses and out in the community.

“What started as one teacher’s project has now become a primary focus of our entire school,” said Tommie Broach, the president and founder of The Broach Schools of Jacksonville. “As we move further into the 21st century, we’re seeking more ways to go green and be environmentally friendly.”

With the help of Home Depot, Broach South students and staff are taking the initial steps toward forming their own greenhouse project, while Broach Beach and Orange Park look to follow suit. And with assistance from the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce’s West Council, Broach West expanded its green efforts to the entire school grounds through an Earth Day beautification project.

Branching out

In addition, the Broach West students branched off campus at a solar cooking competition, where although they did not place, they became known as the only school to cook using vegetables they grew themselves. And they are helping beautify other gardens in the community and donating their fruits and vegetables to those in need.

The goal, according to Wood, is to teach the students education is about more than just yourself. It’s about helping others using your knowledge, and in this case, using your knowledge to help the environment.

The Broach Schools of Jacksonville are a group of small, non-profit private schools with five locations in the Jacksonville area. They specialize in helping students getting lost in overcrowded classrooms succeed at overcoming learning disabilities by providing them small classroom sizes and individualized attention from their teachers. It can be reached at 904-637-0300 or through

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