Learning comes alive at Holland Christian Schools Rose Park Elementary thanks to Rose Park Ranch.
Miska Rynsburger, principal at Rose Park Elementary, surprised teachers with a visit to a school with a farm. After the visit, she asked staff what they thought of creating a ranch at Rose Park. They were fully committed.
“The teachers became inspired and bubbled over with ideas of what we could do creating a Rose Park Elementary version,” Miska says.
Thanks to generous donors in the community and enthusiasm from the school, the ranch moved forward with a greenhouse and small barn area housing two chickens and two goats.
“We ran into a roadblock when we learned Holland Township doesn’t allow agriculturally zoned animals in the plot of land where Rose Park is located,” Miska says. The “roadblock” turned into a learning opportunity. All students engaged in a writing unit and two presented their papers at a township meeting asking for a change – and they received it!
Students love working to maintain the barn and the animals, along with a plethora of plants and vegetables in the adjacent greenhouse. Besides learning how to care for and nurture plants, students learn about biodiversity.
“In the greenhouse, aphids tried to eat the plants which we don’t want because we want the plants," Rose Park Elementary student Beckett says. So the students researched the issue and added ladybugs to the greenhouse “because ladybugs eat the aphids,” Beckett added.
Students are responsible for the work and maintenance of the barn and greenhouse. Barn chores include sweeping, watering and feeding the animals, walking the goats and generally keeping the barn clean and healthy for the animals.
“It’s been beautiful to watch the students take ownership of the barn, be proud of what they have been given and work hard to maintain it,” Andrea Cantu, third-grade Spanish immersion teacher at Rose Park Elementary, says.
The ranch has also opened up creativity for the teachers and given them new ideas for ways to put curriculum into practice.
For example, after collecting eggs from the chicken, students use them to practice addition, subtraction, graphing and charting egg production.
“With a sense of adventure, everybody is all on board with what they can give to create this opportunity for our learners,” Miska says.
“The ranch has opened up such creativity for our teachers. We can start to think of different ideas for putting our curriculum into practice. Teachers kind of get to be kids again!” —Danielle Snoeyink, Rose Park Elementary School Teacher
“Volunteering honors Martin Luther King Jr. because he said anybody can be great because anybody can serve. It show our part by serving the community.” —Evan, GHAPS student