Planting a Legacy: The Breen School Story

One of the four pillars of Groundwork Lawrence is youth education. This year we directly partner with five Lawrence schools to provide STEM enrichment classes, manage schoolyard gardens, and foster environmental stewardship and advocacy at a young age.

In a partnership with the John Breen School, located in South Lawrence near our Urban Farm at Costello Park. A driving force in their pedagogy is a focus on "the Breen goes Green," and we have been eager to help them accomplish their goal. Comprised of 300 Pre-K and Kindergarten students, GWL teachers have taught lessons ranging from recycling, plant and animal life cycles, and sensory exploration.

Our second pillar is food access, so we hosted field trips at our Urban Farm at Costello Park where students weeded, studied local insects, and learned about the intricacies of a working farm. We believe in engaging students with active learning, and introducing them to food access and advocacy through hands-on activities is essential. During the field trips, kindergarteners were shocked to discover that food does not solely come from a supermarket: like their potential, it must be cultivated, nurtured, and grown.

Beyond teaching, we have looked for opportunities to support the Breen School outside of traditional education, exemplified through a third pillar: environmental improvements. When GWL received the Greening the Gateway Cities funding from the  Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and Energy, we knew one of the areas we wanted wanted to target was the South Lawrence neighborhood. This fall, we planted thirteen trees, representing K-12 education in the Lawrence Public School system. These trees will continue  to grow, lower energy costs for the school and surrounding neighborhood, improve air quality, and serve as a living lab for the teachers and students to use.

When Enel Green Power North America, Inc. approached us to organize volunteer activities during their Service Week, we knew the Breen School was a perfect fit. Dozens of volunteers planted 400 bulbs alongside the students. Come springtime, we will see flowers bloom, and excited children's faces as they experience it for the first time.

At Groundwork Lawrence, we believe that our activities should stem from partnerships, and our fourth and final pillar is community engagement. Our work with the Breen School represents our core values: they want to green the Breen, and we want to be with them every step of the way. The classes we teach, the trees we plant, and the flowers and youth that bloom all lead the Breen to a brighter and greener future.

Together, we are a part of planting a legacy and we hope you will come on November 17 to the Glow Gala to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Tickets are available here, for 
sponsorship opportunities please contact Susan.

Check out our Calendar for upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities.

Groundwork Lawrence | 60 Island St., 3rd Floor | Lawrence | MA | 01840