June 22, 2005: Headlines: COS - Philippines: Secondary Education: Farming: The New York Times: After graduating from Yale with a degree in English literature, earning a master's from Teachers College and spending two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Brewster landed at Bronx Science in early 2002, ostensibly as a substitute

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: June 22, 2005: Headlines: COS - Philippines: Secondary Education: Farming: The New York Times: After graduating from Yale with a degree in English literature, earning a master's from Teachers College and spending two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Brewster landed at Bronx Science in early 2002, ostensibly as a substitute

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After graduating from Yale with a degree in English literature, earning a master's from Teachers College and spending two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Brewster landed at Bronx Science in early 2002, ostensibly as a substitute

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English literature, earning a master's from Teachers College and spending two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Brewster landed at Bronx Science in early 2002, ostensibly as a substitute

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English literature, earning a master's from Teachers College and spending two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Brewster landed at Bronx Science in early 2002, ostensibly as a substitute

How Does Their Garden Grow? Very Well, Say Junior Farmers at Bronx Science

By Samuel G. Freedman
The New York Times
June 22, 2005

[Excerpt]

Ms. Brewster knows better than most the allure of the soil. The daughter of a college president, a product of Exeter and Yale, she discovered it 13 years ago, when her family moved onto her grandparents' farm in Ridgefield, Conn., which had lain fallow for more than a decade. Dina and her father, Carroll Brewster, newly retired from the presidency of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York, together cleared the land, and set about burning off 15 acres of brush.

The resulting blaze required several fire companies to quell and put the neophytes on the front page of the hometown newspaper. ''It was like, 'Yuppies burn down farm,''' Ms. Brewster recalled with chagrin. ''We were the local joke.'' The fiasco, though, captured the attention of an experienced farmer, Otto Gravesen, who called up the Brewsters to say: ''Thanks for the ash. I'll see you in the summer.''

That summer of 1992, Mr. Gravesen began transforming the scorched land into fields of eggplants, potatoes, corn, tomatoes and blueberries. In the process, he became perhaps the most influential teacher in Dina Brewster's life.

''I saw the kinds of intelligence that aren't so valued in our society -- handiness, the ability to fix things -- and I was awed by it,'' said Ms. Brewster, who is 29. ''People like Otto know how to read the world in the way people in the other circles of my life don't. They could read the water and read the grass the way other people read books.

''I never had a sense of accomplishment in school the way I did on the farm,'' she continued. ''It's not just the harvest; it's looking at a perfectly harrowed field and knowing all the work that stands behind it.''

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English literature, earning a master's from Teachers College and spending two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Brewster landed at Bronx Science in early 2002, ostensibly as a substitute. She quickly demonstrated acumen outside the usual areas. She took eggs from her farm to the school secretaries, and when students set loose a few chickens in the halls for an end-of-year prank, she was the one staff member who knew the correct way to snag the birds, sneaking up from behind.

While Ms. Brewster's certification was in English, she was permitted to teach one class in a different subject, and last spring she decided to make it horticulture. Bronx Science actually had two greenhouses that had been used for such a course in the past, but they had gone to dishevelment since the last horticulture teacher had retired five years earlier. One was used for storing stage sets from school plays. Ms. Brewster persuaded the principal to let her conscript students serving detention to help clear it on the pretext of ''community service.''

In that revived greenhouse, amid the steam pipes and air vents of the Bronx Science roof, Ms. Brewster led this year's class in sowing and growing aloe, peas, basil, radishes and tomatoes. She taught the plant science of cell structure, fertilization and photosynthesis. She addressed the political issues of agriculture, like organic farming and genetically modified organisms.

When it came time last week to administer the final exam, Ms. Brewster asked each student to devise a plan to ''save the planet and feed its population,'' a brain-stretcher worthy of Bronx Science. Then, on the last day of class, she came with her parting present, or maybe it was more of a legacy: seeds for mesclun greens, sugar snap peas, nasturtium flowers.

As the bell rang and her proteges dispersed, she was still calling out, ''If there's anyone who needs more seeds...''





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Story Source: The New York Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Secondary Education; Farming

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