September 1, 2022
US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Tours NY Sun Works Hydroponic Classroom
“When I look at this classroom, I don’t see just plants — I see opportunities for students.”– US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona
On Tuesday, August 16th, NY Sun Works was honored to welcome US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Rep. Nydia Velázquez to the hydroponic farm classroom at one of our long-standing partner schools, Cypress Hills Community School in Brooklyn. This important occasion comes as part of a greater national conversation concerning helping schools recover from the pandemic. During their visit, NY Sun Works’ Executive Director Manuela Zamora and Director of Program Development Megan Nordgrén guided our distinguished guests through the benefits of a hands-on approach to learning, facilitated by planting, growing, and harvesting produce in the classroom.
A critical aspect of the evolving educational landscape is equal access to quality education, something that becomes increasingly important as we gain deeper insights into where and how educational disparities manifest. NY Sun Works’ program is dedicated to addressing these needs: our curriculum aligns with NYS mandated science standards and the NGSS and is designed by experts with years of teaching in classrooms of their own, with students of all learning abilities. We meet students where they are, especially students who are at-risk, require special accommodations, or are currently underrepresented in STEM fields. Working with our labs provides students not only with 21st-century skills they can take into post-secondary education or their careers, but measurable social-emotional learning benefits from growing and caring for plants in the classroom.
Hydroponic classrooms are more than just classrooms, however. They integrate climate education into their surrounding communities, allowing teachers and caregivers to grow alongside students. Educators who take part in our programming receive comprehensive support from our education and greenhouse operations teams to confidently teach about sustainability science and urban farming. In parallel, students are not only exposed to a new way of learning science but also encouraged to bring the science home by sharing the produce they’ve grown in the classroom with their families and the school community through our Harvest Program.
The need for climate and sustainability education in our school system has never been greater. NY Sun Works strives to help provide cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable solutions to educational needs in schools that need them most. Together with the support of leaders like Secretary Cardona, and elected officials who play a vital role in our cause, we can continue to execute our mission of empowering the next generation of climate and sustainability leaders with the learning opportunities they deserve.