Barrington students learn cooking, sewing and responsibility
LITHIA - Making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless may not seem like a quick road to the student council presidency, but it is a lesson in social responsibility for upcoming student leaders. Stephanie Martin's consumer science classes at Barrington Middle School involve a lot more than learning how to stay fit and cook healthy meals. Her classes follow the curriculum of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, incorporating lessons in career development, salutations, economics and etiquette. And the kids apparently love it. In her second year at the 3-year-old school in Circa FishHawk, her classes sold out, so to speak, in 20 minutes. Martin said group is a "dynamic and effective student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work and social issues through family and consumer science education."Last year, Barrington had the largest new chapter for the organization in Hillsborough County. "It's a little cooking, a little sewing, culinary careers, career discovery, nutrition and wellness," said Martin, who in addition to teaching, is also a personal chef with deep roots in healthy living. "It's real life experience," she said. She even teaches them how to market a bake sale, relieve stress, grow fresh herbs and know which fork to use when they are invited to their date's house for dinner. "I focus on the physical body through exercise and nutrition and the emotional mind – dealing with stress and relationships." And Martin throws in some lessons in spirituality. That doesn't necessarily mean religion, she points out. Even without a church, there are students who want to be good people, good stewards of the earth, good fellow human beings, she said. She helps them bring that to the foreground. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the students made recently, along with some cheerful cards, went to the Nativity food pantry. Just before the holidays, the students will bake and take their cookies to local nursing homes. "I like the class because you learn how to cook and it teaches you how to be successful and manage money," said seventh-grader Grady Roberts. "I learned all these statistics about the homeless in Hillsborough County and I like the cooking and eating." Cheyenne LaPalm, who busied herself making a greeting card, said she is learning how to make decisions for when she eventually lives on her own. "And I'm learning that stuff like this helps people in need." Wyatt Bruce learned to make pancakes in his class, then took the recipe home and tried it on his family. "I made them by myself and my family said they were really good." Three of Martin's students, eighth-graders Madison Lambert, Starling Smallwood and Riley Sowell, are part of a Courtesy Corps learning to be future high school leaders. They'll be headed to Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry to participate in a leadership conference. "We're teaching kids life skills," Martin said. "When they leave here, they'll know how to boil, sauté, chop, follow recipes," save money and set a budget for the grocery store. And when they look at their plate, they'll know how much of it should contain protein and how much should be filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.
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