By Brenna O’Dea
Here at Pilot Light, we work with some pretty wonderful people. From the old to the young, the executive chef to the elementary eater, we are grateful to them all. There is one group of individuals in particular however, whom rarely get the public recognition they deserve. We talk about them and the incredible work that they do, but we thought it was time to start talking to them and share their stories directly with YOU. Who am I talking about? Our teachers. Our food-fighters out on the front lines. Our advocates, your advocates, your children’s advocates. I was lucky enough to learn about one such individual, Ms. Kristie Friar from Palmer Elementary.
We learned about her own experiences with food as a child and how they changed over time:
“My parents always cooked when I was a kid. As a parent now, I think back to how much effort it must have taken for my mom to prepare all the meals she did as a full time working mother. She even made breakfast every day! My dad became a vegetarian when I was in middle school, so meals were healthy and creative. The times I was able to make my own choices about food, I did not choose the healthiest options. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I started making healthy food choices for the right reasons.”
Ms. Friar then explained her experience with food in the classroom today, and how even though she is the teacher and not the student, she learns new things each day as well:
“So far I am blown away by the world of food and kind of the ‘secret lives of chefs.’ I am very impressed with their passion and so surprised at the multiple parallels I am finding between the world of restaurants and education. I’m also learning what a great entry point food is for all students. Everyone can participate passionately in projects or discussions regardless of their academic success. At the beginning of the year I gave the students a project which included a task to bring one food item from home that they could share a story with the class. I had so many students bring incredible dishes, AND samples for me to try. I learned a lot about my students and their families.”
We spoke about why Ms. Friar is passionate about Pilot Light and why she feels it is important to incorporate food into the curriculum, especially at a young age:
“I believe the seeds we can plant now within our students food choice and eating habits can shape them into healthier happier young adults. I also think it is so very important for young girls to embrace a healthy relationship with food especially as they are on the cusp of adolescence. We (teachers and chefs) are pouring lots of time and energy into creating a memorable, even life changing experiences for students and working to expose them to ideas they may never have had a chance to imagine without Pilot Light.”
And finally, Ms. Friar hopes to see further curriculum development and growth from Pilot Light in the future:
“I would love to see a full curriculum created in order to free teachers and chefs up to spend more time in relationship with students. Knowing the students better and their relationship with food or traditions they have at home allows us to more time to adjust the curriculum to better fit the students in front of us.”
We are so very grateful to all of our teachers just like Kristie Friar, who dedicate their lives to bettering our communities starting with young minds. We look forward to 2017 with full hearts, open minds, and rumbling bellies, and we cannot wait to continue helping YOUR little ones learn and grow with every bite.