The Gimme Five program will give Harper Woods School District students the opportunity to learn outside the classroom at Pingree Farms in Detroit in subjects such as veterinary medicine, manufacturing and engineering, animal science and urban farming.

The Gimme Five program will give Harper Woods School District students the opportunity to learn outside the classroom at Pingree Farms in Detroit in subjects such as veterinary medicine, manufacturing and engineering, animal science and urban farming.

Photo provided by Holly Glomski


Harper Woods school program gives students hands-on education

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published November 10, 2017

 Pingree Farms will help students learn through hands-on experiences such as raising and feeding animals, farming projects and engineering programs.

Pingree Farms will help students learn through hands-on experiences such as raising and feeding animals, farming projects and engineering programs.

Photo provided by Holly Glomski

HARPER WOODS — The Harper Woods School District will soon be offering its middle school-aged students a new out-of-the-classroom approach to learning.

Called the “Gimme Five” program, selected students will travel one day a week to Pingree Farms in Detroit to learn about the real-world applications of what they are taught in the classroom.

“There are tremendous benefits for students,” said Holly Glomski, the Pingree Farms farm manager. “Through the program, they are exposed to potential careers and interests like animals, plants and things of that nature, gain education through hands-on activities, and they get to develop their leadership skills, their lab skills and other aspects of learning they can’t get through the classroom.”

Harper Woods Superintendent Steven McGhee pushed for this program after seeing it in some of his previous educational positions. He believes this will help motivate some students and could better educate other students who have trouble learning in a traditional classroom environment.

“This is an experimental learning program,” said McGhee. “In the context of the classroom, the teacher will be teaching, but that doesn’t always mean the students are getting learning or getting experience. Taking them out of the classroom means they see why they have to learn English or learn math, to see how those lessons are applied in veterinary medicine or how engineering can be applied in a manufacturing job.”

The students will be able to study and get hands-on experience with veterinary medicine, manufacturing and engineering, animal science and urban farming. All the programs will be done at either Pingree Farms or Milton Manufacturing, which are at the same site.

“The students will see what the animals need to live and grow, and learn about nutrition,” explained Glomski. “They’ll see some baby animals be born and work with them. They will learn how to care for them and how it’s different than caring for adult animals. The program also will carry over into the summer, so the students can choose an animal on the farm to train, care for and exhibit at the Wayne County Fair.”

The program will be open to students in grades six, seven and eight. About 15 to 25 students will be selected to attend once a week for 2 1/2 hours, including transportation time.

“We will begin it the start of the second semester,” said McGhee “It will start (again) at the beginning of the school year starting next year. It’s never too early or too late to look at new career pathways and get hands-on experience. We love working with Pingree Farms … and we hope to have more partners before next year.”

Students will be selected by an application process. The criteria for whom is accepted is still being determined by Harper Woods district staff. The applications will be put online as well as be sent home with students once the criteria for selection is finalized.

“We are not just looking at good grades; we are also looking at which students might be able to learn better by bringing them out of the classroom and let them see and hear for themselves,” said McGhee. “We want to look at which students might learn differently.”

McGhee said the planning for the program is going well, and several teachers from the district are visiting Pingree Farms so they can integrate what the students are learning on the farm with what they are learning in the classroom.

“Four teachers from the middle school just did a tour of the site. This way, they can build a lesson plan around it,” said McGhee. “The lessons in the classrooms will be divided around English, math, science and social studies. Those areas will each be tackled one at a time while looking at these potential careers (on the farm). When they get to the site, this lets them use that time for all hands-on times.”

The Pingree Farm program is still fairly new, but Glomski said they have had classes take part in similar programs before and saw great success.

“This is our third year doing this … and we’ve worked with Mr. McGhee before,” said Glomski. “He was interested in giving an opportunity to Harper Woods students who wouldn’t have had any options to see these activities otherwise. All kids can benefit from this, but especially those who learn best from tactile learning.”

McGhee, who was hired as superintendent prior to the 2017-18 school year, said he wants to keep looking for new ways to teach students and prepare them for their futures.

“We want them to start their career pathways in middle school so they are prepared when they enter high school to be thinking about their future,” said McGhee. “My goal, more so than anything else, is to show that the classroom literally has to be the whole city of Harper Woods, the whole state of Michigan and the whole United States. They have to see those choices and see those careers before they even get to high school.”