A big THANKS! to all who support our efforts. These are OUR Angels.


There have been

so many people who have helped us along our journey. 

 Our principal, Mr. James Fowler was extremely supportive of our garden from the very beginning and really wanted our students to have experiences he had enjoyed as a student.  His words to me were usually  “Go do it Mrs. Gooch…whatever you want to do, just let me know….then do it!  His support proved to be invaluable throughout the process, and in the coming years for our garden.  He was honored in the garden on Peace Day in 2018 with a Peace Pole with some of his famous inspirational quotes- that he sent out daily to his staff. 

kiser garden kiser garden
kiser garden angels kiser garden angels

He would often send students out to the garden who “needed a break” (deep pressure activities for those of us who practice Occupational Therapy), join students in the garden as they were helping with garden tasks, or to check out what they were exploring.  He was one of the biggest fans of our garden and could be heard bragging about it often to visitors for as long as he was principal in our building.   

The Garden Club of Dayton

The ladies from the Garden Club of Dayton made items from our very own garden for our open house.  Some of those goodies included: chocolate zucchini bread, dill dip for our cherry tomatoes, mint tea, and other items.  These ladies have been with us from the planning stage, and throughout every process and phase of the garden.  They planned, developed, planted (making sure children were a big part of this), developed a manual with pics and information on native plants, and donated all of the plants for our Native Garden area (which has been a constant amazement area throughout the years as students have watched the miracle of a monarch chrysalis turning into a butterfly and flying away).  They did a “penny fundraiser” and raised enough funds for our garden fountain.  They have donated countless hours to maintain the garden, help with fundraisers, and as constant support when things got hard.  My appreciation for them cannot be expressed in mere words.

community support

Five River Metro Parks

has provided compost, mulch, advice, and support throughout the years.  During one of our parent nights/open houses, they came with a snake, owl, rabbit, and frog and parents and students got to come and visit with them while picking vegetables in the garden.  They have also helped me host/provided classes for others wanting to start a school garden.  They gave me the best advice I got while planning the garden which was “do your garden in phases, and don’t try to do everything at once”. 


Some more big thanks to

 Teresa Wendell bringing them to our attention, We received (2) grants our 1st year totaling around $1,500 from the Keep Montgomery County Beautification Grant,

and $500 from the Da’Vinci Neighborhood Grant. 

One of our teachers also got a grant for “outdoor nature toys” (Thank you Sarah Szumnarski).. 

We made sure to use our local nursery, North Dayton Garden Center.  Mr. Pete Kossoudji is the owner and it just so happened that he was an alumni of our school.  He was more than happy to help us with helping to choose the right plants and made sure we planted them properly.  I highly recommend you find a nursery that is close to your garden and that is available for consultation if needed.  “Mr. Pete” (as I call him because I can’t spell or pronounce his last name) has been invaluable to our garden.  

More Angels!

Here’s a list of other angels who helped in some way in our garden (not counting tons of kids and their parents), in no particular order.   Please forgive me if I have accidentally forgotten anyone….There’s been so many throughout the years!

  • Heidi McGohan and The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Sinclair Community College (fieldwork program, and many, many volunteer hours during the hot days of summer and at other times)
  • Tate and Lyle (helped build many raised beds and reinforced our fence to deter vandalism-also provided snacks for volunteers!)
  • PEACEDAYton (Tom and Sarni Bensman-countless hours building, weeding, planting, harvesting, supporting, and counseling. )
  • Evans Bakery Community Garden (Matt Teeter-Thanks for helping with our sprinkler system-and donating trees, your time, and other items)
  • IN/KY/OH Regional Council of Carpenters union  (spent a whole Saturday+ building our wooden shed and elevated bed for wheelchairs)
  • The Montgomery Co. Public Health Department (provided funds through a grant to raise vegetables for our community, along with the infrastructure for growing all of those vegetables)
  • UD engineering students (many volunteer hours)
  • PNC bank volunteers ( many volunteer hours)
  • The Mulch Man  (Thank you Mel!)
  • Kiser Alumni (donated our beautiful benches)
  • North Dayton Garden Center (lots of free advice, seeds, and support)
  • Justin Collins for donating and building the elevated containers for our sand and water play areas.
  •  Dayton Public Schools post-secondary adult program at Goodwill Easterseals. (helped with cleaning up the garden in the fall)
  • Donna McCoy our community liaison who helps provide snacks and water for our volunteers and garden club, helps with providing volunteers, and helps with grants/funding for the garden.  She also helps out on the building side of things, since I am no longer in the building.   
  • Dayton Public Schools construction teacher and students at Ponitz (built our Pergola)
  • Dayton Public Schools grounds manager, (Thank you Kirk Vencill for doing everything I asked … even when you didn’t want to.) electrician, cafeteria, and custodial staff (lots of hours planting trees and shrubs, saving boxes to kill grass and make pathways, and providing the garden with electricity), and helping get rid of mounds of bags weeds/trash, etc.
  • Mr. Piper, our art teacher, who oversaw and managed many projects including the:  Minions Rainbarrels,  garden stepping stones, the beautiful sign over our door leading to the garden, and helping out with our  “Only One You” project.  I’m sure he’s done other things that I can’t remember….He’s also put in tons of hours to help clean up and maintain the garden.
  • Stephanie Hall our Speech and Language Therapist (lots of very much needed volunteer time during the Mother’s Day sale, and garden clean up/maintenance)
  • Many teachers who supported the garden in many ways, and took their students out to plant, tend, and harvest.
  • Whitney Razor and her family who helped with garden maintenance and the garden club.  Whitney did her level 2 OTA fieldwork with me and was an extraordinary student, who was exceptional in her practice of Occupational Therapy.  She helped out with fundraisers, and came back after her clinical and helped out with the garden Club.  Whitney loved going out into the garden with students and helping them explore textures, insects, and learn about the flowers and plants.  She did lots of art projects with students in the garden and when her time ended with us, the students were very sad to see her go (and so was I).
  • And last, but certainly not least, my dear husband- Raymond Gooch, and my children and grandchildren, who have spent countless hours volunteering their time in the garden and listening to my big ideas and plans.


Helping People, Changing Lives
Community Action Partnership

OAPSE Employee of the Year
Dayton Public Schools

Elizabeth Abernathy Hull
Scholarship Committee of The Garden Club of America, and
The Garden Club of Dayton

OUTstanding Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award
Five Rivers Metro Parks

Community Partnerships

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