By Team iCEV on November 28, 2017 at 7:28 AM
The Gridley High School floral design program is employing creativity, social media and certifications to create a floral design program that stands alone. In just 3 years, Jenny Kaslin, Floral Design Teacher at Gridley High School has successfully created a self-sustaining, hands-on floral design program that is providing students with a valuable education while helping them obtain the skills needed to pursue a career in the floral industry.
Becoming Self Sustaining
When Kaslin started teaching floral design at Gridley High School she had a mission to make her program as hands-on as possible. In order to do this, she set a goal to provide her students physical access to flowers at least twice a week, an expensive endeavor. “This would allow my students to properly execute the skills they learn from classroom instruction into practice to help make them better floral designers,“ says Kaslin.
In order to finance this undertaking, Kaslin crafted a Floral Club of the Month to garner support from the local community. Members pay $250 to receive one arrangement per month for the 9 months school is in session. This provides the program with an income with which to purchase flowers while students acquire real-world floral design skills.
The community response to the program has been terrific. Currently, there are 50 Floral Club members and the program is often asked to make arrangements for community events, funerals, showers and even weddings. In fact, the program has been so successful that Kaslin has been able to purchase new equipment such as a floral fridge and workspace tables using program funds. Plus, at the end of the year, students are able to tour the San Francisco Floral Mart and attend a Giants game as a reward for all of their hard work.
Gridley students creating the March 2017 Floral Club arrangements
Floral For All Students
This three-year-old program is drawing students from a variety of backgrounds and each student has a unique journey into the program. For some, the artistic element was a draw, while others were attracted to the idea of working with their hands.
For Selina Santillan, a junior in the program, floral design influenced her as a young child, “I have always been interested in floral design since I was little. My grandma owned and worked at a floral shop in town. She always taught me little things about flowers as a child and I carried that interest with me through high school.”
Floral design is providing an outlet for students to follow their passions.
“It is amazing what beautiful flowers can do for students who are trying to find their creative niche,” says Kaslin. “I love watching my students grow and take pride in their work.”
Gridley students creating arrangements for a fall wedding
Creating Internet Buzz
Many schools and school organizations use social media as a tool to communicate with students. For Kaslin’s students, social media plays a key role in the classroom. Inspiration from websites like Pinterest and other floral focused social media accounts are helping the Gridley High School floral program remain relevant with trendy designs.
“Social media makes us want to be better,” says Kaslin. “Many of my students follow other social media floral platforms and bring in new ideas and designs. This allows us to stay current with the industry and also show off all of the hard work our students do in the floral room each week.”
The program also garners support from members of the local community through social media. As a way to encourage community participation in the program, Kaslin set up an Instagram account and Facebook page separate from their FFA chapters. She uses these accounts to show off classroom projects and it often leads to more customers for her students. A majority of the program’s bookings for weddings and other events happen over Facebook.
“It has been a fabulous sharing network for us!” says Kaslin, “Other schools and FFA chapters get ideas through our Instagram.”
Two weddings Gridley students have designed
Shortly after the floral program was launched, Gridley High School also integrated industry certifications in her class. Kaslin’s students were quick to jump on board. All 15 of her students earned their Principles of Floral Design Certification endorsed by Benz School of Floral Design last school year.
“Many of our students take pride in their certifications,” says Kaslin. “Our students feel as though they have the upper hand on their résumés and they are able to talk about the things they have learned through their certification programs when applying for jobs and internships.”
Aubrey Sanner, a Gridley High School sophomore, plans on using her certification in her job search, “This certification will help me find a job I can have when I'm at college and it will be easier for me to get a floral job with this certification.”
The local floral industry is taking notice of students who apply with a certification already in hand. In fact, as a direct result of student floral certifications, seven of Kaslin’s students were employed in the surrounding area last year alone. These results coupled with their hands-on work, are why Gridley High School’s floral program is known as "The Floral Program" of choice in their area. iCEV student certifications are drawing students and their parents toward the Gridley High School floral program.
As Kaslin has observed first hand, “This is an industry-level certification that florists in our area recognize as an achievement and that sets them apart from other local high school floral students looking for jobs in the industry. This certification program is also appealing to parents and administrators, which gives us the edge in filling our classes.”
“My certification gives me the skills and knowledge to say that I have experience in the floral industry which makes me career ready,” says Gridley High School sophomore, Lauren Kelly.
The floral design program at Gridley High School fall is line with the vision of Career and Technical Education (CTE), to provide students with skills they can take to the workforce. However, these classes also get students excited about their education.
“What I have found is that students come to school for their CTE classes because these are the ones they look forward to and reflect back on after high school,” Kaslin said. “Students thrive in CTE environments because they are being challenged but in a way that makes each and every one of them productive members of society and I truly believe that is all we are after when they receive their diplomas.
Kaslin has experienced first-hand that CTE is an opportunity for students to explore their talents beyond the basic core classes. She notes, “Career and Technical Education is so foundational in shaping students to become better versions of themselves.”.
By providing students with relevant skills they can use later in life, Gridley High School is leading the way as a floral program. The success of the program is not in the beauty of the arrangements they create, but in the skills, Kaslin’s students are gaining and using outside her classroom.
Gridley students fulfilling a wedding order
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