Byron Dodd wasn’t going to let a global pandemic and school closures interfere with his commitment to about 50 students at Crossroads Public School.
Three years ago, when his oldest son Logan was in Grade 1, he decided he would like to teach students a little bit about farming, and figured he could do a better job if he went to school, rather than have the kids come to him, at Dodd’s Greenhouses on Concession 2.
He took some pansy seeds with him, and taught the kids how to plant them in tiny little plugs, then, when they were ready, transfer them to four-inch pots. Each student was able to choose four plugs and two four-inch pots, to plant two to a pot.
He taught them “the very basics” about the root system, soil, and planting, he says.
He had seeds that would produce several different colours, and although it was too early to see the flowers, “the kids got so excited. It was the best part of it for me, watching them all trying to choose which they wanted to plant.”
Once each child had their two pots planted, he took them back to the greenhouse to grow them on, and normally, he would take them back to school to give the kids in May, before Mother’s Day, and they’d have something they could give their moms, with pride in having planted them.
This year was different, of course. The pansies were planted before March break, and as it turned out, due to the COVID-19 virus, the students haven’t been back to school.
Instead, Dodd and his wife Sue arranged for each of the student families to come to pick up the kids’ plants. Each pot was labelled with the students’ names, and the Dodds had one family drive into the parking area at a time, allowing the students to pick up their pots safely.
There are two and a half Grade 1 classes, totalling about 50 students, says Crossroads teacher Anjie Inglis. Dodd taught each one of them and helped with their planting. All three teachers were at the greenhouse Saturday to watch their students pick up their plants, and although everyone was cautious about physical distancing, and spacing out the arrival of the students, it was an emotional reunion.
“We appreciate the Dodd family so much,” says Inglis. “They have come into our Grade 1 classes for the past few years and have taught our students all about planting pansies. Mr. Dodd explained to our students how to plant and care for the flowers. Our students love getting their hands dirty by planting their very own flowers.”
This year, she says, “the flowers were planted on the very last day before March Break. Even though we haven’t been back since, I hope that by picking up their flowers today, our students will see that life continues to go on, and that it will return to normal again. We miss them so much.”