Service Valley Charter Academy integrates agriculture into lessons

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One Southeast Kansas school is taking a hands-on approach to its curriculum.

From tending to their greenhouse or checking on their animals, it’s a typical school day for Service Valley Charter students.

The Southeast Kansas school integrates elements of agriculture into lessons.

“And although it looks like we’re teaching ag, we’re teaching the common core standards, using AG as a way to teach those standards,” explained Service Valley Charter Academy Principal Theresa Farris. “We’re just doing a lot of hands-on projects, a lot of student-led inquiry into what they want to learn about with the animals we have.”

The school has 116 students, ranging from kindergarden to eighth grade. And whether the lesson is in math, science, or reading, instructors are able to use their greenhouse or animals in their barn to convey the learning exercise — like how they used math to determine the size of one of their pigs.

“They take a tape measure and they measure from the base of the head to the tail and then around the girth and estimate the weight so we know when to take the pigs to market,” Farris added. “So they do that kind of thing with math, which that kind of stuff sticks with them a little better than just reading it in a book, well this is how you do it.”

The school made the switch to a charter back in 2008. Students say being able to get their education at a facility like this has made them a little bit more excited to come to school.

“I kind of look forward to it because I get to see my friends and get to do this,” explained sixth grader Owen Jackson. “But there’s still normal school.”

“I know I want to work with animals,” added eighth grader Kaylee Blurner. “I don’t know what I want to do, but it has to be with animals though.”

Other interactive projects students have done include plant sales, more specifically sales of plants that help increase the presence of pollinators in the area. And, the kids have even sold their own livestock.

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