Once a month, students in Learning Specialist Tess Misa’s classroom host and prepare a special lunch for Wy’east Middle School staff.
It’s a lesson that goes beyond the school halls.
Misa and “six amazing instructional assistants, run a specialized program with students with a variety of abilities and needs, who benefit from hands-on learning experiences, such as running our monthly staff lunch,” she said.
“Our program focuses on supporting students at Wy’east in increasing their personal achievement through developing academic and functional skills,” wrote Misa on her Wy’east teacher page. “Students are given specially-designed curriculum to best support their success in and outside of the classroom.”
The students are involved in all aspects of the monthly meal.
“Our students help in choosing our menu and they design our advertisement to post in the staff room and by staff mailboxes,” Misa explained.
“The Friday before we open our restaurant, our students shop at local stores for the ingredients, they practice reading a shopping list and finding items, and they have to stick to a budget.”
Items are purchased using school funds, so the students must also keep track of their store receipts and change.
On staff lunch days, responsibilities are divided between groups of students: One group prepares the food — work that includes chopping vegetables and cooking meat, as well as creating a dessert; another group sets fresh flowers on the tables and sets up to serve. Still others plate each meal and brings it to the table.
Students also work the cash register with support, Misa said, ringing up their customers. Lunch costs $4.50 per meal, with teachers and staff coming in during their lunch breaks.
“After the last lunch (is served), we have cleanup duty, and that’s followed by a relaxing movie for our hard workers,” said Misa.
The meals have been going on for about a decade, said Wy’east Principal Sarah Braman-Smith, a tool to practice useful life skills. January’s menu included chili, salad, baked potatoes and corn muffins.
“(Misa’s) program is very involved throughout our school,” Braman-Smith said, “They run our Lunch Buddies program, as well as gather the school recycling.”
Misa said she and her students will be opening a coffee cart for teachers soon.