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Urban farming teacher helps students connect to the earth and each other

In the News | January 24, 2022

MƒA Master Teacher Emeritus Vanessa Spiegel was recently featured in a Chalkbeat New York “How I Teach” profile where she discusses how she is helping students grow fresh produce for themselves and to help fight food insecurity in their communities.

Spiegel (who teaches at Bronx International High School) also spoke about the moment she decided to become a teacher, how she gets to know her students, and what led her to teaching this new urban farming program.

“I was in awe that such an extensive program existed right here in the Bronx and absolutely loved the idea of giving students access to the earth, the process of growing food, the cycles of nature,” Spiegel said. “When I began teaching, I was surprised by the disconnect between students that grew up in the city and where their food comes from. I would take them on a tour of our garden and have them smell the mint and, surprised, they’d go ‘Oh! That smells like gum!’ So helping students make those connections between city life and nature is incredibly important to me.”

Spiegel has an ideal resume to lead the new program, especially at this moment when academic and social-emotional needs are so entwined. Not only is Spiegel licensed in agricultural and science education, but she also is a licensed social worker. As a Math for America teacher, Spiegel is part of that nonprofit’s community of accomplished math and science teachers in New York City. 

You can read the article in its entirety here.