Gratitude Garden fundraiser to benefit innovative educational programs

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By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

WESTBOROUGH – A Gratitude Garden will “bloom” at each of Westborough’s six schools to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3-7.

The gardens, planted with colorful pinwheels, are an effort launched by the Westborough Education Foundation (WEF) to honor teachers and school staff for “going above and beyond” during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic according to WEF President Maureen Johnson.

Johnson noted that it’s important to recognize how educators had to change their ways of doing things as schools adapted to remote and hybrid models of learning. She applauded parents and students as well for their “patience and persistence” over the past year.

The WEF is inviting parents, students and the community at large to show their appreciation by buying a pinwheel flower for $5 each in a teacher’s name. The WEF will notify the teacher when he/she is acknowledged and by whom.

The deadline to get a pinwheel or many pinwheels is at the end of April. See www.westborougheducationfoundation.com to fill out the online form for the tax-deductible purchase and for more information.

Johnson said the foundation has a goal of selling 3,000 pinwheels, as board members envision each garden comprised of 500 “flowers.”

Each garden will add color and a festive splash to the school grounds and remain planted for at least a week, Johnson said.

“As teachers and students are returning to school, we thought it would be a nice, cheerful way to welcome everyone back,” she said.

Westborough High school student volunteers, led by Julia French and Derek Lu, WEF student liaisons, helped to build the pinwheel flowers and will assist with planting in May.

The Gratitude Garden project is a change from the foundation’s traditional spring CARE (Celebrate and Appreciate Remarkable Educators) fundraiser, where donors contribute to fund teacher grants for “innovative programs that will enhance learning,” according to Johnson.

The programs, partnerships and enrichment activities are outside the funding normally provided in the school budget, she said. Over the years, several of the WEF grant-funded initiatives were incorporated into the regular curriculum.

 “The Gratitude Garden is just a fun way to show appreciation for our teachers while raising money at the same time to support our grants,” Johnson said

And, she reminded, donations for the grants are accepted year-round. 

“There is no set time to thank a teacher or staff,” she said.