Food Forests for Schools
Food Forests for Schools is at the cutting-edge of nutrition and environmental sustainability education. In 2012, The Education Fund made history by installing the first Food Forest in a public elementary school in the nation. These Food Forests of trees, bushes, vines, ground cover, winding paths, and edible delights instill in children the desire to eat nutritious food while learning to care for the environment. Children's eating attitudes and habits have improved 50% annually. Students learn curriculum through hands-on projects in the Food Forests, have cafeteria meals with Food Forest produce (1,764 times to date) , and send harvest bags home (48,798 to date). Meanwhile, families and other community members work on "builds" and attend healthy cooking and gardening workshops.
From a pilot in five schools, FFS has grown to involve more than 34,000 students from 51 Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Of the 51, there are 16 schools with Food Forests, with nine more to be built by 2019.
More than 500 teachers, cafeteria managers, and administrators attend after-school and Saturday workshops to share and learn how to plant and maintain edible gardens and integrate them into the curriculum and cafeteria.
The ultimate objective is to significantly improve eating patterns in children and their families while also improving students' academic achievement. Through FFS, students develop a deeper understanding of the connection between health and their environment.
Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials
When it comes to creative teaching aids, teachers have come to depend on the Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials to provide them with not only that unique tool to motivate their students, but also the everyday staples they need. Sponsored by Ocean Bank, this warehouse and distribution program accepts donations of usable excess inventory, remnants, leftovers, surplus supplies and more from companies -- as well as traditional classroom supplies -- which we then make available free of charge to Miami-Dade County Public Schools' teachers for their classrooms. Miami-Dade County students benefit by having the materials necessary for their lessons and businesses benefit through an up to 200-percent tax deduction on the goods.
Teachers may shop for free twice each year, or on more occasions if they volunteer their time at the warehouse.
As a source of free materials for public school classrooms, the Ocean Bank Center has logged over 26,025 educator visits since opening in 1993, reaching nearly 2 million M-DCPS students.
If your business has excess inventory or outdated equipment and supplies, you can donate them to The Education Fund, which provides classroom teachers with desperately needed supplies, while a company may be eligible for a tax deduction of up to 200 percent.
The Education Fund's Teach-A-Thon -- a "thon" with a twist -- increases public awareness about the critical role that teachers play in student achievement. Business professionals from across the county learn about the challenges of teaching, gather support pledges from colleagues, and then experience firsthand the difficulties and rewards of a day in the classroom. Participants gain a deeper understanding for teachers, teaching quality, and its impact on student success. A total of 2,100 business professionals have celebrated their participation in a Victory Party -- and more because attendees of this party get to sample scrumptious dishes made by one of the 30+ culinary teams that compete in this "Taste of Education" Victory Party -- a la South Beach Wine and Food Festival -- then serve the dishes to 500 or more attendees. Mark your calendars for February 8, 2018!
Ideas with IMPACT
Designed to recognize and reward innovative teachers, Ideas with IMPACT is an investment in success that brings out the entrepreneur in our classroom teachers. Ideas with IMPACT provides teachers who have developed successful classroom teaching methods with funds to package and export their curriculum. Ideas with IMPACT also provides stipends to teachers who wish to adapt and franchise these winning ideas in their own classrooms. By cultivating teacher leaders, convening teachers to share these "best practices," and creating opportunities for teachers' professional growth, Ideas with IMPACT creates a network of support for teachers focused on improving student instruction and meeting student needs. The beneficiaries are the students who receive classroom instruction proven to excite learning and increase achievement. The Idea EXPO-The Teacher Conference will take place on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at the Miami Airport Convention Center. Erin Gruwell, founder of the Freedom Writers Institute and the subject of a motion picture starring Hilary Swank, is the keynote speaker.
One of the largest "by-teacher, for-teacher" conferences in South Florida, the Idea EXPO brings more than 700 educators together once a year to network and share teaching strategies. The EXPO features more than 90 workshops led by teachers, a keynote address and master teaching session by a nationally renowned educator, free curriculum packets, lunch, and much more.
SmartPath provides 9th - 12th graders at five (5) public senior high schools across Miami-Dade County the opportunity to engage in college and career readiness pathways while learning valuable planning, production, and leadership skills. Students partake in after-school College Clubs with tutoring, research, and mentoring resources; college fairs and informational sessions; college tours that provide many with their first experience on a college campus; FAFSA and financial aid information sessions; and valuable summer internships.