The exterior of Dalton Middle has gotten some life ever since Sarah Ott got her hands on it.
Since March, the seventh grade Life Sciences teacher has been keeping up two gardens on the campus of the school. “We started with a butterfly garden in honor of former Dalton Middle teacher Lynn Parker who died of cancer,” Ott said. “Then we made the veggie garden.”
To start the vegetable garden, students in Ott’s class began growing the seeds inside the classroom. When they were ready to be transferred in May, the students took the growing vegetables to the garden that lies on the side of the school building. All the food that is grown in the garden is taken to the cafeteria to be used in school meals.
“We have tomatoes, basil, peppers, a pawpaw tree and blackberries,” Ott said of her garden. “The kids collect the food in the morning and take it down to the cafeteria.”
Now that the weather is getting cooler, Ott said it isn’t that hard keeping up the garden at the moment, but it was difficult during the summer months—someone had to come to the school during the vacation months to water, weed and harvest the garden.
“My husband and I came over the summer or others teachers would come take care of it,” Ott said.
Ott said ever since she saw a teacher maintain a garden during her time at the University of Florida, she wanted to try it for herself.
“It was like an experiment,” Ott said of the gardens. “If it grows, awesome, and if not, we know what doesn’t work.”
Ott’s classes are very hands on—when they have a lesson on litter, they even go help with litter cleanup. They also do a campaign projects to raise awareness to certain problems or subjects.
Ott also shines out of her classroom—she helped with the Glee Club for two years and is participating in the upcoming Cougar Carnival; a fun way to help raise funds for the school.
Ott was recognized this year for all that she does—she was named Dalton Middle School’s 2012 teacher of the year; it is something she is hesitant to talk about, because the humble 28-year-old does not want to brag of her accomplishments.
“I was surprised and humbled that they would think of me,” Ott said of the honor. “It was very cool.”
By Lindsey Derrick, Dalton Public Schools Contributor