Standing outside a snow-covered garden at Nature’s Classroom Institute, teacher Dave Oyama poses a question to the group of bundled-up elementary-school children from Milwaukee:
“Though it’s not in use right now, this garden is organic. Does anyone know what organic means?”
Brows furrow. A few mittens go up. One child guesses “healthy.” Another thinks the word means “whole grains.”
On their second day at the Nature’s Classroom Institute, a residential environmental science school near Mukwonago, the children from Craig Montessori School are in the middle of a lesson that looks different than their traditional classroom work in the city.
As members of a pilot project between Milwaukee Public Schools and the nonprofit institute, the 25 students from Craig are the first from MPS to stay at the facility on 600 picturesque acres in northeastern Walworth County.
The students’ tuition from Feb. 16-19 was funded by an anonymous $6,000 grant from a Chicago donor, but organizers hope that the pilot will prompt fund raising to allow more city students to participate next years.