Mattey’s Garden, Matthew Whaley Elementary School’s outdoor classroom, turned 20 years old earlier this year. The garden is named after Matthew Whaley (1696-1705), who was the son of a local educator (Mary Whaley) who taught grammar school in her backyard. Matthew died at the age of 9 and his mother started Mattey’s free school for the poor in memory of her son. Over the years, there have been several iterations of the school which now stands as the school we know today which continues to honor Mattey’s life.
Today, Mattey’s Garden offers students experiential learning opportunities around science, agriculture, life cycles, etc. The program pairs local Master Gardener mentors with students in order to collaborate on gardening projects such as the Alphabet Garden and Herb Garden. In honor of the garden’s 20th anniversary last year, each student decorated a rock which currently lines the beds of the vegetable gardens.
Kindergarten classes visit the garden monthly to study herbs including Fennell, Dill, Garlic, Sage, Ginger, Bay, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Chives, Lambs’ Ears, Parsley, Lavender, Basil, and Mint. They help to plant them, learn about them, cultivate them, and use their senses to experience them.
First Graders visit the garden monthly as well and their lessons are linked to literature they read in Language Arts. For instance, in September the classes read The Great Big Enormous Turnip and afterward they planted turnips in the garden.
The older grades use the garden as needed to reinforce science and math concepts as well as to serve as an inspirational place to write.
Please come and explore the garden after school or on the weekends and have your student show you around. See if you can find a weathervane, a sundial, fish, plants starting with each letter of the alphabet, and even little Mattey enjoying the garden.