The urban agriculture program at Purpose Built Schools Atlanta is educating the next generation of farm entrepreneurs. It may not be the first area of study that comes to mind when thinking about Slater Elementary, Price Middle and Carver STEAM Academy. Yet, agriculture is one of dozens of enrichment programs offered across this network of schools.
Anjanette Farrar, a teacher at Slater Elementary who developed the school’s environmental science program, was recently appointed to the newly created position of Connections/Enrichment K-12 Liaison for PBSA.
“A strong focus on academics is absolutely necessary for our students’ foundation, but they also need alternatives,” said Farrar. “They need other ways to demonstrate their mastery of a content area and explore their own creativity. It’s hard to reach that academic goal and spark creativity in a classroom setting. Enrichment gives them that outlet.”
PBSA’s research-based instructional approach includes project-based learning, STEAM, targeted interventions, and student enrichment programs. With enrichments like band, sports, art and robotics, and more, PBSA is a place where scholars can explore a variety of subjects to discover their full potential.
The vision for Enrichment is focused on a STEAM curriculum that is supported from Pre-K through 12th grade with students having the opportunity to explore different industries to see what sparks their interest while using the knowledge acquired to take on countless PBL projects throughout their time within the cluster.
According to Farrar, the goal is to expose students to enrichments at the elementary level, give them more voice and choice about enrichment activities they want to explore in middle school and, by high school, students know what extracurricular activities they want to look into–some of which could be possible career options.
“The biggest thing is exposure because, unfortunately, students who look like me don’t get to see themselves in some of these fields,” said Farrar. “We want them to see that so they know all the options.”
Farrar’s aim is to achieve more collaboration across campuses. She is currently working with enrichments teams across the three schools, most of which are offered from Pre-K through 12th grade, including:
- Urban agriculture
- Robotics, computers science and engineering
- Visual arts and film
- Foreign language (currently Spanish, with plans for expansion)
According to Farrar, a successful STEAM curriculum incorporates project-based learning (PBL) coupled with social-emotional learning (SEL) practices to give students the tools that they need to be leaders while actively pursuing solutions to community problems. Ideally, students will utilize what they’ve learned in their various classes to design, build, and maintain a system of solving issues locally and beyond. The plan would be to provide relevant content, within a rigorous learning environment, that incorporates STEAM in all aspects.
“We want to ensure that students are equipped to handle real-world problems and that we are able to nurture the already existing intergenerational relationships between the community, teachers, and students of PBSA.”