Last week, something magical happened at Success Academy Crown Heights: when Ms. Sarnelli’s kindergarten class came back from science, they found their classroom had been transformed into a world-class farm-to-table restaurant. Where groups of desks had once stood, dining tables complete with menus, placecards, and an appetizer of fresh raw vegetables created a very different kind of learning space. As the scholars came in, their teacher, Ms. Sarnelli, and I worked on preparing a main course of gourmet mini pizzas and a dessert of fruit smoothie bowls.
The kids were really excited — after all, a surprise lesson from a guest teacher (I’m a special education teacher focusing on support services) featuring food is a very special treat for kindergarteners. The lesson, part of a Project Based Learning unit on supermarkets, would be a special one. And they weren’t the only ones eager to explore the world of food.
For me, food is a passion. I run a blog on nutritious eating for teachers (who often have incredibly packed days that can lead to cravings and unhealthy snacking), and I frequently share healthy, easy-to-make food options with other teachers at SA Crown Heights. In fact, I’ve even helped a few teachers at my school come up with full-scale nutrition plans — grocery lists, recipes, and quick snack options during the school day.
What we eat impacts us in every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, many school lunches aren’t that healthy, and kids tend to ask for a bag of chips over a bag of carrots. That’s where education comes in: if we can teach kids that there is more to food than immediate gratification, they are empowered to make better decisions. In the short term, kids eating healthy means they can stay focused, have more energy, and learn at higher levels. Over the long term, they are keeping their bodies and their minds in shape for a lifetime of success.