Mary is a teacher at Grove Academy in Dundee. She is also the school’s Eco-Coordinator and has, for many years, motivated, supported and encouraged pupils to learn, enjoy and grow in confidence in gardening activities. Through her passion, enthusiasm, sense of fun and selflessness in terms of her time, Mary has empowered pupils to lead on two projects turning disused waste ground into wildlife havens. The community gardens created at Queen Street and Shiell Street have been recognised in number of ways: through Keep Scotland Beautiful’s It’s Your Neighbourhood initiative for many years, both being awarded the highest level of achievement and Certificate of Distinctions; through Dundee City’s Beautiful Scotland entry and RHS Britain in Bloom UK finals and through Dundee City Council’s annual Garden Competition.
The outreach work at both Queen Street gardens and at Shiell Street provides a very tangible link between the impact of pupil actions outwith the school and how this reflects positively on the school as a whole.
She has given pupils confidence to work in partnership with local groups and businesses; apply for funding; speak at national events such as Keep Scotland Beautiful’s annual seminar; speak to national judges; develop their knowledge of gardening for wildlife and their IT skills so they can engage the wider community through posters, social media, videos and the development of a wildflower app; and successfully enter national gardening competitions. Mary manages to pull the pupils together to achieve things which other people would have had doubts about.