By Kate Lareau
A few months ago, parents of Peabody students surveyed Peabody teachers and asked, “What can we do to help the school?” The number one answer, “Help us flip our schoolyard, please!” Shrubs and plants were sparse or non-existent on the Peabody grounds, and since landscaping was obviously important to the teachers, parents knew this was the right project to tackle.
Planning started over the summer, as Kalki Winter, Vice President of ServiceMaster Landscape and parent of a Peabody kindergartner, contributed his expertise to create a plan for the yard. He drew up plans to surround the school with shrubs and small trees that would be hardy enough for Memphis weather. Kalki collaborated with experts at the Botanic Gardens to create the final landscaping plan, and he listed the work that needed to be done before planting could take place. Parents had their marching orders and got to work right away.
On July 24 and 31, parents and Peabody staff gathered for the first two rounds of “Flip this Schoolyard.” Weeds and roots were pulled out and existing shrubs were whipped into shape. Some great work was done on the playground, as ServiceMaster Landscape brought in a truck full of mulch to line the perimeter of the play area, and parents and grandparents contributed sweat to make it look great! Wendy Sumner-Winter led a craft project with the Peabody kids who were present, creating concrete stepping stones for the playground that were printed with children’s hands. Mayor Wharton and school council member Martavious Jones both came by to lend helping hands and were a great encouragement to everyone.
On September 11, parents were back for round two of “Flip this Schoolyard,” as cooler weather meant safer planting temperatures for the new shrubs and trees. The new plants were purchased using funds raised at the annual Cooper-Young/Peabody School Chili Cook-Off. Starting at 7am, Peabody parents, students, and staff gathered and worked hard to prepare the ground, get plants in the ground, and spread mulch. By 10am the school looked fabulous! The parents and staff of Peabody are grateful to ServiceMaster Landscape and Kalki Winter for contributing time and expertise to make sure that the school looks great for years to come. Memphis City Schools has also helped give the school an extra shine. Since the landscaping project started, they’ve come by to re-paint railings outside the school and power wash several areas. Next time you drive by, be sure to notice all the improvements, and get ready to eat some chili at the next Cook-Off so that we can see what else the Peabody staff and parents have planned!
By Kate Lareau