Curious children surround kindergarten teacher Shonna Brady in the Goldie Feldman Academy at Temple Beth Sholom’s Papa Ed and Mimi Organic Sustainable Kibbutz Garden. Brady has been teaching her kindergarteners about the life cycles of seeds, and now her students are seeing what they have learned come to life.
Brady had a vision to start a garden for students, to teach them where their food comes from and reconnect them with nature. Ed and Betty Rosenthal and the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee made her vision a reality with a grant in August 2011.
“If they plant it, they will taste it; and if they taste it, chances are they are going to like it and continue to eat it,” says Brady.
Brady didn’t always expect to go into teaching: she once worked at The Adam’s Mark Hotel, in St. Louis, and was a business major. But then, she decided her life was moving too fast and took a trip to Hawaii.
Upon her return to St. Louis, Brady earned her degree in education from Webster University. She moved to Sarasota with her husband, Jim, and daughters, Anna and Sarah, 15 years ago, and has been teaching at Temple Beth Sholom ever since.
All grade levels within the school are involved with the garden: middle school students experiment with fertilizers, and other students use the garden as a serene place to read.
“It’s created this curiosity among our student body about what they are eating and how they grow,” says Brady.