Tucson school transforms greenhouse to give students unique learning experience

School gets greenhouse

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A transformation at a Tucson school has given students another place to enhance their learning.

The Rillito Center, in the Amphi School District, is a place where students with the highest needs from preschool to age 22, learn to be as independent as possible.

Thanks to the determination of staff and the generosity of a business, this state-of-the-art facility just expanded in a unique way.

Teaching assistant Kristine Tyczynski recognizes what you plant is what you grow.

“Part of the beauty is we show them a strawberry is not a geranium, is not a broccoli, but they are all really beautiful, just like all of us,” Kristine said.

Years ago, Kristine didn’t know her own passion for teaching would plant a seed in her daughter.

“She’s been working in special education in the pre-school for 12 years, so back when I was in seventh grade, I started volunteering and I just fell in love with it,” said Kristine’s daughter, Amanda Tyczynski.

Amanda now works alongside her mother at Rillito Center.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have such a wonderful role model. It is always kindness that she shares. I couldn’t ask for a better mother,” Amanda said.

Together, they find creative ways to meet the unique needs of their students, like following Amanda’s dream of turning a rickety, old greenhouse on the school’s property into a usable space for students and staff.

They asked Lowe’s Home Improvement for help. Kristine said Lowe’s not only donated supplies, but sent a team to complete the project.

“They were so generous with us. They just came and they painted, they brought us our first plants and soil. We couldn’t have done it without them,” Kristine said.

As this mother-daughter duo works to plant hope and love in this special place, Kristine is reminded of the incredible beauty that can blossom every time she thinks about everything her daughter has accomplished.

“I burst with pride every day, really,” Kristine said. “When I see her in the classroom with someone who is not verbal and she is third-year sign language, communicating, that is what touches my heart more than anything.”

You can support the Rillito greenhouse with a tax credit donation.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.