Science is intrinsic to gardening, and it is the core of Global Gardens’ curriculum. Our garden-based lessons build STEM knowledge and reinforce Oklahoma science standards. But more important than what our students learn is how they learn: through student-led inquiry. In Global Gardens, students’ own questions and ideas drive the activities, sparking investigation and problem solving. Putting students in the driver’s seat builds their curiosity, learning motivation, and science identity.
Global Gardens is rooted in the international discipline of peace education, which emphasizes the dignity of all people and all living things. We teach students peaceful methods of collaboration and conflict resolution, as well as strategies for relieving stress and sharing emotions. As their ability to manage inner and interpersonal conflict grows, students form deeper relationships with themselves and others, which fosters increased learning and greater social-emotional well being.
At Global Gardens, our primary aim is to help students believe that their voices and actions are powerful. We guide them in dreaming up their gardens, setting goals, and taking the steps to achieve them. Through hard work and perseverance, students learn that they have the ability to make things grow. This process builds their confidence, which turns into excitement about what they can accomplish in other parts of their lives. We help them apply scientific thinking to social problems, and we give them the space and support to test out creative solutions.
percentage of classroom teachers
agree that GG promotes students’ curiosity and learning motivation
percentage of after-school students
report increased STEM engagement
Heather Oakley develops the ideas behind Global Gardens while writing her Master’s thesis at Columbia University in New York City, based on her project using gardening to engage Harlem youth to become active learners and community members.
Founder and Consultant
With thirteen years teaching experience and inspired by the success of school garden projects around the country Heather Oakley began Global Gardens. Determined to see students ask their own questions, and inspired by the concepts of peace and hands-on science education, she developed an inquiry-based program to empower students to dream big, work together, and have confidence that they will reap what they sow – that in fact, they are responsible for their future.
Raised in Tulsa, OK, Heather left for France at 18 and gained valuable experience living, learning, and teaching abroad. She has taught in classrooms from Uganda, East Africa to Naples, FL, to Harlem, NY. In New York Heather gained masters degrees in both Urban Science Education and International Development/Peace Education from Columbia University. While working toward her advanced degrees Heather continued as an educator; consulting with elementary school teachers about how to better teach science, teaching at the UN International School, where she saw peace education in action, and in Harlem where she taught 1-6th grade science and piloted two small-scale community garden projects.
Returning to Tulsa in the fall of 2006 Heather used her diverse experience in urban education, botany and community organizing to create a program that would empower high-risk students to become agents of change in their communities.
Heather is a dreamer and a doer. In addition to her love of students, science, nature, and art, she likes to create and is an avid traveler. She likes to take walks with her husband, spend time with her two daughters, collect driftwood and rocks, take pictures, knit, and of course, garden.
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