Thanks to the Volunteers - by Jeni Freed
Last Thursday, I had an extremely productive and enjoyable class with my third graders at Ludlow-Taylor. After our two hour lesson, I reflected, what made this lesson exceptional? Was it engaged students? Yummy recipes? The first time we had visited the garden in a while? All these things are relevant but the one thing that I believe really made a difference was the low child to adult ratio. Despite the cliché, the proverb “it takes a village” truly applies to the FoodPrints program.
Every class, no matter the age, benefits from having extra hands in the classroom. On Thursday, the class was lucky to have 3 volunteers plus their teacher serving them. One dad, Mr. Young, lead a small group in a discussion on kale while de-stemming. In the garden, Mr. Young followed my lead and helped show the children how most of the plants are no longer thriving while the kale is still growing strong. Ms. Helen, a retired teacher and Pre-K-3 grandma, attends almost all our lessons at Ludlow-Taylor. On Thursday, she worked with a small group mixing and preparing healthy whole grain cornbread. Later in the lesson, Ms. Helen joined a small group discussing the similarities and differences between three varieties of kale. Her gentle manner and engaging personality kept the kids active and interested. Also on Thursday, Ms. Jamie, a grad-student from GW, volunteered. Ms. Jamie not only worked with the students, but she also kept our snacks cooking and moving. She stirred the black-eyed peas to make sure they didn’t burn, she washed dirty dishes while I was teaching, she joined the kids on the floor and respectfully encouraged participation when one student got off task.
You might think that you need special gardening or cooking experience to volunteer with FoodPrints, but these skills are not necessary. All you need is the willingness to engage with students and give the group attention and some guidance. Come to a lesson and see! We would love to have you volunteer and be a part of the learning, exploration, and fun in FoodPrints.
Written by Jeni Freed