Hannah More Chicken Coop Benefits Entire School
A project involving raising eggs and building a chicken coop at Hannah More School has shown great interdisciplinary academic benefits.
The students at Hannah More School in Reisterstown just hatched some new friends. The school, which provides individualized academic, vocational and therapeutic to students with special needs, recently installed a functioning chicken coop as a multidisciplinary learning tool.
The idea for the chicken coop originated last year when transition coordinator Susan Murray approached Nicole Brook, a teacher at the high school, about using chicken eggs in the classroom for environmental science lessons. As they saw the effectiveness of the eggs as a learning tool and the students’ attachment to the chickens, Murray and Brook decided to create involve the whole school in a chicken coop project.
“We work [the chicken coop] into culinary [arts], we work it into environmental science, we work it into art class,” Brook said. The coop, which involved the building trade in its early stages, will also be used to aid Hannah More’s horticulture and mass media programs.
While other staffers were involved, including building trade teacher John Guidera and teaching assistant Joy Stone, Brook, who has a degree in biology, emphasized that the chicken coop was a student-based project. The students in her oldest class were each able to individually “adopt” and look after chickens as they enthusiastically shared stories about the fun times they had throughout the duration of the project.
“We found it very therapeutic,” said Asia Arthur, a senior in Brook’s class. “Every time we were frustrated, we would look forward to holding the chickens to calm down.”
Kodi Kamplain, another student in the class, said that his responsible care of the chickens helped convince him mom to let him have a dog.
The students at Hannah More are referred from their local school systems, according to Director of Development Joan Drebing, with several students coming from city schools. These students are referred because of a need for a specialized school environment.
“The city kids get attached,” said Stone, “And these are kids that have never been exposed to any kind of farm life.”
The success of the chicken coop has resulted in future plans to involve more of the school. For example, the mass media program is planning to set up a live video feed of the chickens that will be viewable on the school’s website. Additionally, Brook suggested the possibility of entering some of the chickens in farm shows or selling some chickens to parents of the students and taking donations to improve the coop.
Brook stated that the chickens, which are about six weeks old, will be taken to a farm over the summer. When school begins again in the fall, eight chickens, one male and the rest female, will be brought back to the coop in order to make this popular project permanent at Hannah More.
“This is definitely one of the best science projects I’ve ever done,” said senior Sierra O’Keefe. “Because being in a school like this, we don’t get trusted to do a lot. The fact that Ms. Brook trusted us enough to let us raise the eggs and the chickens makes me feel normal.”