Alief ISD teacher creates gardening program to help students connect during pandemic

ALIEF, Texas – Children all across the Houston area are continuing to feel the effects of the pandemic, even as we slowly make our way back to normalcy.

It has impacted every aspect of their lives, from education to their mental well-being. It’s been especially hard for some students in lower-income communities, but a new program at one school in Alief ISD is helping them flourish.

“Inner City Greens” is more than just a gardening club for kids. It puts a strong emphasis on social development and personal growth.

At Hicks Elementary School in Alief ISD, 84% of the student body is economically disadvantaged, according to principal Mary Kesler.

Gardening has become an extremely powerful teaching tool for all kinds of things.

“Not only are we learning academics, but we’re also building those skills that you’re going to need to survive in this world,” said Kyrstan McDuffie-Bass, founder of Inner City Greens.

McDuffie-Bass, a special education teacher at Hicks, created the program with a very specific goal in mind: to use the project-based learning method as a way to connect with and engage students.

“More importantly than ever, social and emotional is very important to our children,” McDuffie-Bass said.

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