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Farm to Classroom: Third Graders Learn Math, Life Skills on School Farm

October 21, 2016

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. – Third graders at Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Mississippi’s DeSoto County School District head outdoors every day to deepen their learning by working on their school farm. The farm helps teach math, science, social studies and English language arts, and students who work on the farm achieve among the highest test scores in the state. In 2016, 100 percent of Pleasant Hill students passed the 3rd Grade Reading Assessment, and the school was one of only three elementary schools in the state where 80 percent or more 3rd graders scored proficient or advanced on the statewide Mississippi Assessment Program math test.

DeSoto County Schools 2016 Teacher of the Year Todd Willis leads Pleasant Hill’s farm program, which he started five years ago with a small garden. Today students raise rabbits, hens, cows, pigeons and tilapia and grow crops ranging from tomatoes to strawberries to muscadine grapes. Students, parent volunteers and community support keep the farm running throughout the year.

Pleasant Hill’s farm program caught the notice of the White House, which earlier this month invited Willis, his co-teacher Stephanie Case, and two students to join the First Lady’s harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden.

This Mississippi School Spotlight video takes viewers to Pleasant Hill Elementary School’s farm.

View all Mississippi School Spotlight videos at



Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist