Hillcrest High School

Jun 27, 2022 by Anita Reid

Cultivating Student Growth Through Gardening

Banner School Award LogoTuscaloosa County Schools

Principal, Mr. Jeff Hinton

Superintendent, Dr. Keri Johnson

Cultivating Student Growth Through Gardening was a student-centered program created by Hillcrest High School (HHS) which nurtured the development of students in the self-contained special needs class. The program was largely responsible for improving the lives of students in three areas: attendance, behavior, and job skills. During the COVID year when attendance was challenging, the classroom remained open for the entire spring semester with 100% attendance. The team-building culture that was nurtured provided social and emotional learning opportunities that fostered positive behaviors. The new math and science skills coupled with entrepreneurial skills developed during the plant sale created opportunities for students to shine with new job-related skills. HHS recommended four students to the University of Alabama Crossing Points program and 100% were accepted. In addition, five students were placed with the Project Search program, most at the Veteran’s Hospital. The most important criterion for acceptance into Project Search is “a desire to achieve competitive employment.” The gardening program demonstrated that Hillcrest students were workers. This group of nine students from the self-contained classroom represented the largest number of placements in Hillcrest’s history. Cultivating Student Growth Through Gardening placed Hillcrest High School at the forefront of schools making a difference in the lives of students.