Ahead of Philadelphia Union's home match against the New England Revolution on Sunday afternoon at Subaru Park, we're proud to announce tonight's Subaru Love Promise Playmaker is the Michael Krautzel.
Michael, a graduate of Garnet Valley High School, was a standout in baseball, soccer, and basketball, and honored to be the recipient of a baseball scholarship to West Chester University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. He began his teaching career at Penn Wood West Middle School in the William Penn School District and continued his education to receive a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counseling. He returned to Garnet Valley School District as a Health and Physical Education teacher, a varsity baseball coach, junior varsity basketball coach, and varsity soccer coach. Enjoying sports in the fresh air led him to begin planning on ways to involve more members of the community in outdoor activities through his other interest- horticulture.
In 1999, he began his quest to energize interest in horticulture by volunteering to help his mother, a teacher of students with special needs, create a garden for those students to grow vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruit trees. Witnessing the enthusiasm of the students enjoying the benefits of gardening, the added advantage of parental involvement in a shared experience with their children by cultivating a garden, he then began planning ways to involve his own students in the same endeavor. His goals were to broaden his students’ awareness of the benefits of caring for the environment, learning the importance of conservation, and maintaining and increasing mental health through gardening.
He started with several flower borders to decorate the district buildings. However, after students asked to work in the gardens during their lunch and study hall times, the large courtyard of the Garnet Valley Middle School grew to boast rose gardens, trellises of clematis, herbs, water features, and cut flower gardens. A source of pride for the students, the gardens were used and maintained by them under Michael’s guidance along with community volunteers who traded their time and energy to learn more about horticulture. The gardens are used for various events including: dances; poetry readings; orchestra and band activities; social studies and math classes; art classes to make pottery and decorative accents; and a peaceful area for students to begin their day by participating in Tai Chi. The gardens provide a means for all students to increase opportunities for hands-on learning while increasing knowledge about eco-friendly environments by observing the butterflies, bees, birds, and other pollinators that visit the garden. In time, the district saw the value of the horticulture lessons and validated its importance by incorporating it into the curriculum as a class. The Garnet Valley Middle School gardens have been featured in national botanical magazines besides being a test site for rose breeders to evaluate future rose stocks.
The father of seven began to think of additional ways to extend student knowledge of the environment by researching the effects of the environmental threats to the coral reefs. Creating a curriculum to teach reef conservation, eco-friendly fish conservation, and maintaining healthy water quality became the cornerstone of the Garnet Valley aquaculture program. The class has captured the interest of the students and has given momentum for student research on the effects global warming has had on our water resources.
There are currently twelve sections of classes taught by Michael called Healthy Living Through Horticulture and Aquaculture. The class has roughly 350 students per year. Besides continuing applied experiences in horticultural, students are taught the importance of managing proper water care to keep the coral reefs in the classroom healthy while learning the important role coral reefs play in the health of the world’s oceans. In December 2019, Michael and Garnet Valley’s aquaculture program was recognized by a local aquarium group as the Aqua Education class of the year for commitment to educating students of the importance of the health of the world’s oceans.
Michael’s role as an educator and curriculum creator has promoted and maintained the program through fundraising and community involvement in the benefits of hands-on interactive learning. As a lifelong community member, coach, teacher, father, and graduate of the Garnet Valley School District, he created a nationally recognized program from the ground up based entirely on dedication and donations. Healthy Living Through Horticulture and Aquaculture is a new and innovative form of education to the Garnet Valley School District. The benefits of the program has reached students and community, raising awareness of the environment and the role we all play in maintaining its health.