Muller Elementary Students’ Sculptures Inspired by the Seven Continents

Muller sculpturesFifth graders at Muller Elementary, a performing arts magnet school in Tampa, FL, showcased what they learned about regions and cultures of the world by creating full-scale totem poles for the school’s Global Garden, a Sharing the Dream-funded project.

The sculptures, constructed from 2-liter plastic bottles, glass, empty paint cans and other found materials, are decorated with plants, animals and natural scenes inspired by the seven continents.

“They are all very different and unique,” said Muller Elementary’s principal, Wendy Harrison.

The eye-catching sculptures were recently exhibited in a district-wide recycled art show, before being installed in the garden, which is divided into seven areas, each representing a continent.

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African daisies and Birds of Paradise have been planted in the African section, and planting is underway in the European section. A “living fence” of Sweet Viburnum hedges has been planted around the site of a future outdoor stage for students, families and community members to gather around to watch music and drama performances.

The school has held four family gardening events since the beginning of the school year, with up to 60 people pitching-in to plant, mulch, weed and water. At one event, lead teacher, Kathy Dimitriezki, noticed one dad hanging back as his kindergartener worked.

“I said to myself, he’s gardening in his heart. He’s taking it all in.”

She left for a moment to cover the African plants in preparation for an overnight frost and, “by the time I got back, he was next to his son, digging holes. To see a parent get involved, who at first wasn’t participating, was awesome.”

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“Everyone, from families and students, to teachers, are taking pride in our garden,” Harrison said. “Students have told me they care about the environment and their school. It brings tears to my eyes.”

Now she and Dimitriezki look at every patch of green space as a potential spot for vegetables and flowers.

“The Sharing the Dream grant has helped us spread the garden to different corners of the school property,” Dimitriezki said. “We have tomatoes growing around the parking lot!”

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Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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