Each year, the WKBN 27 Caring for Our Community campaign recognizes teachers across the Valley and surprises them with $500. Teachers apply to win, then a panel picks the entries with the best ideas.

CHAMPION, Ohio (WKBN) – WKBN’s first Creative Classroom winner is David Murduck, a teacher at Champion Middle School.

Murduck plans to use his $500 winnings to start a garden at the school.

“So a few years ago, before our school was built, the students came up with some visions for what they’d like to do for an outdoor learning area and part of that was gardens — garden areas, fruit trees and things like that. So a little bit at a time, we’ve been working to try and develop that area and develop the gardens, which eventually the fruits and vegetables will go to the community and maybe some food banks and so on,” he said.

The focus would be on kindergarten through fifth-grade students, though the program is expected to touch every grade level.

Murduck’s plan is that classes would plant fruit and/or vegetable seeds according to their theme in the classroom in the spring. Classes will grow enough plants for their garden, and students in kindergarten and first grade will receive a pot, soil, seeds and instructions to help them to grow their vegetable plant at home.

“Not only do they learn about the whole process of growing the plants from the very beginning from elementary on, but they’ll also be using that food both at school and the families that need it, and hopefully, through a family pantry and things like that,” Murduck said. “We’ll also have some gardens because we raise Monarch butterflies in our classroom, so some pollinator gardens. We’re working in a lot of different areas that help not only academically but with the community for food and things like that. The coronavirus has created a lot of bad things and a lot of issues, but it also has created some positive things because teachers are being forced to be more creative and a lot more family activities are starting to come back.”

The $500 cash price will be used to purchase lumber, screws, soil, fencing and seeds for a minimum of six raised bed gardens. These gardens will be built as soon as the weather permits.

Space has already been set aside for the gardens. Everything will be in place for the spring growing season.

The Creative Classroom Contest is made possible through the WKBN 27 Caring for Our Community campaign in partnership with Huntington BankWindow WorldDunkin’One Health Ohio and Columbiana Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Ram Truck.