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Growing Professionally, Personally, and Vegetables on The Side

July 24, 2019  |  Comments Off on Growing Professionally, Personally, and Vegetables on The Side

Robin Barnette is transforming learning through the community garden.

Robin Barnetter HeadshotRobin Barnette is an Exceptional Children Teacher at Alexander Youth Network in our Psychiatric Residential Treatment (PRTF) program in Charlotte. While she has only been at Alexander for about six months, she has been able to make an impact on the kids in the program through her dedication to revitalizing the community garden. In addressing the diverse needs of the children at Alexander, Mrs. Barnette is learning more about the education process and how to cater to different learning modalities.

It’s never too late to start something new

Mrs. Barnette cookingRobin joined the Alexander team after years of owning her own pre-school in Northern Virginia, Faith Works Daycare, and working in the public school system in North Carolina. Though she worked with children, her first experience working with children with behavioral challenges was not until a few years ago when she worked with children on the Autism spectrum at Solomon’s Children Center.

 “I enjoy being able to facilitate a hands-on and meaning-making learning experience.”

In her role at Alexander, Robin works with counselors to plan and execute activities to meet the specific learning needs and modalities of children in the PRTF program. Through structured days, she incorporates activities like gardening, cooking, and nature walks into her overall lesson plans. These activities help children with their academics and other skills such as self-regulation, coping, and social skills.

In her time at Alexander, a majority of Mrs. Barnette’s lessons plans center around the community garden. After teaching a lesson on the historical roots of agriculture for African American History Month, she realized that many of the kids have a general interest in gardening. Since then she has found ways to adapt gardening to various lesson plans and to meet the different learning styles of the children. For example:

  • Visual learners are able to watch the plants progress through their life cycle and learn to recognize their own development through treatment based on recounting interactions with their peers
  • Auditory learners can learn by talking through the actions of gardening and pairing that action with what they are learning in a lesson.
  • Kinesthetic learners learn through hands-on activities. A lesson of growth estimations can demonstrate how plants are growing and allow children to practice measurements and calculations at the same time.

“I have learned more from our kids than they will ever learn from me.”

GardeningThrough her time at Alexander and working in the garden with the kids, Robin has broadened her knowledge of incorporating NMT principles into different learning styles. At the same time, the children at Alexander are able to experience learning through a different lens.   







Written by Mayor’s Youth Employment Program Intern, Litzy Sanchez-Villegas.


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