An inscribed stone in Levana's Garden

Levana's Garden

MUS students working in Levana's Garden

Our home for hands-on, experiential learning

San Diego Jewish Academy’s 5,000-square-foot garden is truly the centerpiece of our campus. Giselle Wellman, Director of Garden Programming, works with teachers to create meaningful learning experiences outdoors. Students learn about plants, soil biology, and Jewish traditions.

The garden is named after Levana Estline z”l, our beloved kindergarten teacher who passed away in 2003. The garden includes sculptures of the four biblical matriarchs – Rebekah, Rachel, Sarah, and Leah - created especially for the school by four female artists working in concert: Helen Segal, Cheryl Rattner Price, Barbi Dorfan, and Sigal Sherman.

ECC in the garden

The garden is enjoyed by all the students in our Early Childhood Center – from daily walks visiting the chickens to weekly scheduled programming where our 3-5 year old students meet with our Garden Educator. While in the garden, students experience hands-on learning and connect to our Jewish value of caring for the earth.

GMLS in the garden

Our K-5 students visit the garden bi-weekly to expand and deepen their classroom learning. Giselle Wellman works with teachers to design learning experiences that honor the Jewish value of taking care of the earth. Our SDJA chickens are enjoyed by all and cared for by the 5th-grade class. Beyond the classroom, students can participate in their grade's Garden & Sustainability club.

MUS in the garden

Middle School students have the opportunity to work in the garden once a month during advisory, to experience the Jewish value of taking care of the earth. This includes planting, turning compost, and more. Students can also visit the garden each month during middle school garden club. 

For our High School students, the garden supports project-based learning and brings environmental science to life. The garden serves as a living laboratory where students can take soil samples, plant crops, and monitor plant growth and progress throughout the course of the year. We are also working on a solar hydroponic solution to help more people have access to healthy food. This project is in connection with Sha’ar HaNegev, our sister region in Israel.

Parents & Community Connection

The garden provides a beautiful space for connecting with the greater SDJA community. We hold farmers’ markets and educational workshops in the garden and host a lunch once a year in the sukkah for our elderly community. We welcome and invite parents to volunteer with our garden programming throughout the year.