Security Health Plan invests in Marshfield Middle School Literacy Garden

What if you could promote literacy without a single book? Marshfield Middle School is trying, by first creating a space for reading to take place: The Parents Are Willing Supporters (P.A.W.S.) Committee is raising funds to create a literacy garden at the middle school, imagined as an outdoor sanctuary and open air classroom for reading, reflection and relaxation.


Pam Jirschele believed in this project so much she made sure to nominate it for one of Security Health Plan’s monthly $1,000 Employee-Driven Corporate Giving awards before her retirement. After nearly 30 years at Security Health Plan, Jirschele wanted to multiply her efforts to give back: She’s part of “TEAM 1970,” a group of classmates that is collaborating with P.A.W.S. to make the Literacy Garden a reality.


The idea has been implemented in other school districts with success, but would be unique among schools in the Marshfield area.


“There’s nothing like this project now in Marshfield, so I’m very proud my classmates are taking part to give back,” Jirschele said.


The Literacy Garden would welcome students before and after school, during study halls as an earned incentive, and through classes making use of the open air and environment. The Literacy Garden will offer two outdoor classrooms and additional individual reading areas. Classes that plan to teach course materials in the space include:

  • Agriculture lessons on maintaining landscaped property
  • Music solo and ensemble rehearsals
  • Art projects using nature as their subject
  • English oral recitations and group literature discussions
  • Life Science ecology lessons
  • Life Skills lessons on plant life cycles
  • School counseling sessions in need of a peaceful environment
  • Study hall students who have earned outdoor reading privileges

But the useful space doesn’t come free: The estimated cost of the project is $25,000. P.A.W.S. has made a commitment to raise all the funds for the Literacy Garden, so no tax dollars will be used. Fundraising began in February of 2017. The P.A.W.S. Committee is planning four fundraisers for the 2017-18 school year, but additional donations (including in-kind donations such as benches or items for the garden in memory of loved ones) will be accepted. Watch the Marshfield Middle School website for updates.


“I’m very proud we’re doing something valuable for students and community members who will also benefit from the project,” Jirschele said.


Implementation is set to begin the summer of 2018, but construction may take up to two years. Learn more and view a detailed conceptual plan at


Help grow the garden: Donations can be submitted as checks written to the Unified School District of Marshfield (USDOM) with MMS Literacy Garden noted on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Mike Nicksic – Principal, Marshfield Middle School, 900 E. 4th Street, Marshfield, WI 54449. All donations are tax deductible.


Every month, Security Health Plan invests $1,000 as part of its Employee-Driven Corporate Giving Campaign. Marshfield Clinic Health System employees are encouraged to nominate an organization that it is making a positive difference in the community.