6th Grade ELA, Social Studies, Math, Project Based Learning Exploratory, & FFA Teacher in Hamilton, NY – Hamilton Central School
2023-24 Fellow: Monica Chamberlain is entering her 11th year teaching 6th grade at Hamilton Central School in central New York. Alongside teaching, Monica is also the junior FFA advisor and works closely with the agricultural teacher at her school. She has learned so much about food, farming, and the agriculture industry within the past 2 years, and is excited to see what she learns from the Food Education Fellowship.
Monica was introduced to Pilot Light through a friend and quickly became a fan! She works hard to incorporate real world learning into her classroom within all of her content areas. Monica thinks the Fellowship will only strengthen this practice. She is looking forward to working with other teachers from different states and learning about new, exciting things to bring into her own classroom.
She has introduced Food Education to her 6th graders in the past, through a food insecurities unit. This included growing a variety of their food in the classroom through hydroponics & aquaponics. Students were taught about sources of their food. They tried new things like microgreens and mushrooms. To end the unit, they developed a dairy drive for our local food cupboard. Monica’s classroom donated high needs items like milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Students learned about the food cupboard program and how it services families within our school family. She is so excited to see how this program can help grow that particular experience and so much more.
Favorite Food Education Standard: FES #7: We can advocate for food choices and changes that impact ourselves, our communities, and our world.
I think this will be the most difficult standard of this journey. However when kids feel like they have a voice and have the ability to make change in any type of challenge they are invested and that results in a much better end result. If kids understand where their food comes from, and why it is important, than they will be motivated to make the proper changes within their community.
A Favorite Food Memory or Recipe:
This past year, I had many parents who emailed or called me to share how grateful they were that their child was learning about food and real world learning. They shared that their child came home “buzzing” about what they had done that day. (I led different projects like Top Cut Cooking Challenge, Making Salsa, donating to the food cupboard, etc.). I would get pictures from of parents cooking with their child using the fresh ingredients we would send home. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that the families were enjoying the learning as much as the kids.
Why I Became a Fellow:
I am excited to learn from other professionals, and to learn about great opportunities that I can bring into the classroom for my students.