Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Road Trip - Now This is Learning!

Professional growth comes in many ways but the best is when there is a call for a Road Trip!!! Recently the private schools have been holding their Open Houses for parents and educators to explain their various programs and Transition options. My team members and I have fortunately been able to attend most enabling us to make better decisions for our students. Yesterday's adventure has to rank within the top ten.

The social worker on my team is responsible for our students who attend The Archway Schools. A couple of weeks ago she received an invitation to a Floral Show the school was going to host and suggested we all attend. I was game as I've heard about The Archway Schools for years but had never visited nor was I aware of the types of programs that were available.

As we pulled in the parking lot I was awed by the surroundings.

The buildings are snuggled within trees lining this beautiful lake. Initially we had to walk all the way down to that bridge you can barely see and cross over the lake to the left side of the image. Ducks played in the water as we walked towards the bridge and as we crossed...

they followed.

We continued on the path...

In case you're interested our car is parked way down at the end of the lake on the other side. Little did we know there was a bridge down there that we could have used. Oh well, I needed the exercise and it was a beautiful day.

Still in the proverbial dark about what to expect we finally arrived at From the Ground Up Flower Shop's grand opening?

One of the students greeted us providing a program and a red carnation. We entered the small structure and to my surprise I ran into an old professional friend, Howard Cohen, who is the principal of Archway's high school program. He spent some time explaining that the floral shop was part of the newly developed floral design progam within their Career Center. Unlike other floral design programs Archway developed a store front so that the students had full exposure in the making of a flower shop. Brilliant!!

There was quite a turn out for the event. Greetings were made along with a brief overview of the history of the project. That in itself was quite interesting. The newly renovated building we were standing in was some old storage shed back in the summer. I quickly took in the interior, that is what I could see looking around the many bodies squeezed inside.

Three beautiful floral arrangements sitting on one of three design tables caught my eye first. They were to be raffled off at the luncheon. A flat screen T.V. hung high on the wall played a continuous slide show of the multiple landscapings the students had done. Various sized floral containers were mixed in amongst evergreens that decorated a nick knack shelf bordering the ceiling. A cash register sat positioned on a counter top by the door. All in all it was a real floral shop.

As we stood listening to the various speakers we could see young children with paper flowers circling their tiny heads through the windows. The speakers concluded their remarks and we all moved outside for the ribbon cutting ceremony followed by the unveiling of the shop's sign by the Archway Flower Children.

Unfortunately I was standing behind the children but you can still get the drift.

Next we were led by students in the program to the greenhouse where all the work is started.

Standing by the sign is the proud teacher, Linda Rau. Linda has years of experience as a floral designer and has owned her own floral shop. She brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the program.

The inside of the greenhouse was very neat and carefully organized.

The plant on the floor to the left was absolutely beautiful.

We listened to various students share their experiences thus far in the program. Each one had nothing but great things to say. Happy learners leads to learning.

From the greenhouse tour everyone proceeded to the luncheon. I had to grab a few more pictures before joining the affair.

I walked back up this beautiful and welcoming walkway as I wanted to see more of the deck that surrounded the shop.

I had stood on this front porch to watch the ribbon cutting and the unveiling of the sign. What amused me the most was that the tree in front was protected and shoots up through the deck. I then walked around to the lake side of the store.

Is this not a welcoming sight? I felt like I should sit down and order something. Looking down the lake...

I finally made my way back to the luncheon where everyone was reflecting on the events thus far. Two gentlemen from the Pennock Company joined us. Naturally I had to engage in conversation putting them through a Spanish Inquisition as to their role in this new program. Turns out they are a major fresh flower supplier and provide all the supplies for the program. Furthermore, we learned that they purchase their flowers from flower farms all over the world. Now that would be a cool job, going to flower farms all over the world to pick flowers. :)

One of the gentlemen had visited a flower farm in Equador. The information he shared in itself was most interesting. Heck I thought the flower suppliers just grew all the flowers in green houses and sent them out. I had no idea the road flowers took to get to my vases. I'll save that story for another Blog.

Not only was a beautifully prepared buffet provided but Archway even supplied entertainment by their students. The music therapist's group, The Arrangements, were very good. I especially enjoyed the song that was accompanied by one of the students playing the flute via a head switch.

After an enjoyable luncheon and entertainment it was time for the raffle.

No surprise I didn't win one but they sure were beautiful. All done by the kids.

I wish "From the Ground Up Flower Shop" the best. I am sure these students will make it successful while learning essential life skills. Now this is learning!!

For now have a Firecrackin Great Day!

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