Sunday, May 22, 2022

W&M grad, Hampton Roads Academy teacher wins Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom Award

Students learning in the garden classroom at Hampton Roads Academy. (Courtesy photo/Hampton Roads Academy)
Students learning in the garden classroom at Hampton Roads Academy. (Courtesy photo/Hampton Roads Academy)

Jennifer Massengill only started teaching at Hampton Roads Academy in Newport News three years ago, but her innovative ideas have won her statewide acclaim.

Massengill, a class of 1991 graduate from the College of William and Mary, won the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom 2018 Teacher of the Year Award.

“My first lesson when I started here [Hampton Roads Academy], I brought a blanket, I spread it out and I said ‘everyone sit down,’” Massengill said. “A lot of the kids here had never had a fresh tomato or sat on the ground and had a lesson.”

The garden at Hampton Roads Academy had been around for several years, Massengill said, but it was in need of serious revitalization.

For Massengill’s students, the garden became a classroom where pictures and texts in books connected to hands planting seeds in neat rows.

“You can learn about something from a book, from a worksheet or from a video. But when you do it yourself it becomes a real thing. It becomes the first time you truly understand that process.”

Students were able to enjoy the fruit of the classroom crops too.

“The most fun is when they’re given the freedom to pick cherry tomatoes,” Massengill said. “It’s all organic, so they can just wash it off and pull it off the vine and put it in their mouth.”

Jennfier Massengill is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and award winning educator at Hampton Roads Academy. (Courtesy photo/Hampton Roads Academy)
Jennfier Massengill is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and award winning educator at Hampton Roads Academy. (Courtesy photo/Hampton Roads Academy)

Massengill’s class reinforced science lessons through cooking things grown in the garden.

Teaching students about measurements and sanitation was just another part of the garden experience, Massengill said.

While Massengill’s teaching led to her award, she said she feels fulfilled in teaching her students healthy eating habits.

“It doesn’t have to be candy to be sweet,” Massengill said.


To contact the reporter, email steve@localvoicemedia.com

Related Articles

MORE FROM AUTHOR