Photos of students and teachers

2008 Innovation in Education Award Finalist

Michael Jitosho

Award: Emerging Student Innovator
Senior, Sonora High School
Fullerton Joint Union High School District

“I am so glad that I was able to provide my former elementary school with this very important tool for learning; allowing students to explore areas of science in a newfound manner and gain respect for the environment as well .”  Michael Jitosho, Student, Sonora High School

Program Description

Michael Jitosho utilized his background in math and science to create a teaching garden for Sierra Vista Elementary School. He used knowledge from his geometry and calculus classes to draw designs for the planter boxes and the surrounding fence, and he used his financial literacy skills to work within a budget. Each class at Sierra Vista is assigned a designated time period where students will participate in lessons that utilize the garden, giving all students an opportunity to tend to the garden.

The teaching garden is a wonderful instrument for teaching students about plant life in California, plant cycles, and the environment. It is a creative, hands-on mechanism for students to use while exploring the areas of science. The garden teaches young students about responsibility and commitment, as each of their individual roles is important for the garden’s survival. The teaching garden has instilled a sense of pride and unity in the entire student body.

Furthermore, the teaching garden has encouraged the school community to be more environmentally aware, which is significant in a time where environmental issues are an increasing concern. The elementary students have become more aware of their contribution to the environment’s survival through the hands-on lessons developed around the teaching garden.  

The planning process taught Michael more than he ever anticipated, as the project had to be developed on a professional level.  He met with an architect to draw up blueprints, and met with the superintendent to ensure that all parameters of the project were in accordance with the district’s policies. He encountered obstacles along the way, but the end result was an innovative learning tool that students can be proud of for many years to come. Michael also feels a sense of accomplishment to be able to give back to his former elementary school.    

What factors or people have influenced your interest in science, math or technology?

Michael attributes his interest in science to his science teachers and to his father. His teachers have encouraged him to pursue a science-related career, and they have pointed out his unique desire to get the “whole story told, in full circle, to grasp a higher and more concrete understanding of the many topics in biology.” Michael has also been inspired by his late father to use his interest in science to help people. He plans on following in his father’s footsteps and will attend college in Fall 2008 to become an optometrist.

How can business and community members support your efforts?

check mark Arrange a student field trip at your workplace.
  Help underwrite our science, math, or technology programs.
  Participate in a virtual career panel at our school.
check mark Provide college scholarships to our students
check mark Provide guest speakers at our school.
  Provide internships to our students.
check mark Provide summer job opportunities.
  Sponsor a robotics team at our school.
  Volunteer as a STEM mentor to our students.
check mark Volunteer to help with our Science Fair or Science Olympiad.

For more information about how you can support Michael's teaching garden for future generations, please contact Rick Snyder, Principal at Sierra Vista Elementary.
1800 E. Whittier Ave.
La Habra, CA 90631
(562) 690-2359

© 2011 Project Tomorrow®