The five sites I work with have improved in terms of interest in nutrition to a massive degree. Evidenced by the additional programs I have been able to implement, I see only more potential for efficient delivery of leadership services. An appraisal of each might help to clarify the direction sought by each:
MO: Just having started with this site a month ago I haven't yet been able to challenge the young people to take up leadership positions in a meaningful way, however the lessons I have implemented have been extremely successful as student engagement was close to 85% if I had to guess. This site has the potential for a single session cooking class by the end of this year with proper planning.
LMM: The complexities of this site are too many to comprehend. I have been able to interest many students from 4th-8th grade and have seen great potential during the bi-monthly cooking clubs, but the interest is sporadic. Of course, the regular necessary classroom lessons have proceeded well with students and teachers investing in the extraordinary lessons I provide through the critical and imaginative classroom activities. Although, I believe the correct gauge for student interest in nutrition is the cooking club and unfortunately that engagement has waned since the onset of the series. The remedy is switching to a weekly schedule of seeing the cooking club instead of the bi monthly (every other week) implementation. Also, recruitment must focus on the natural student leaders. In order to pinpoint those young people capable of rallying others, I must conduct some in class cooking demonstrations where I can seize on their urge to eat good food, the smells, and the suggestion of more leadership opportunities.
The teacher assisting me in implementing the cooking club seems very interested in enhancing the experience by providing for a second series of cooking clubs and perhaps a parent workshop focusing on nutrition and cooking healthy, affordable meals. I'll need to be sure to provide whatever resources he wants and facilitate the progress of this idea and urge for a parent investment in the nutrition fight.
CR: The most dynamic site I have, offers students who are interested and motivated to push the potentials for nutrition. Every lesson I implement has more than the typical enthusiasm shown, but also a level of thought that excites me. I can implement an activity and leave the room feeling like the students have more tools to evaluate not just nutrition claims but navigate the world of valued creativity.
I have implemented a cooking club series here too and the results have been drastic as students have taken a real interest in learning the basics of cooking and taking leadership roles in the nutrition of their community. Just this past week I asked students if they would like to conduct a second event of nutrition leadership (my wording not their's) for their peers and they were more than excited. They suggested two possible events to implement: (1) a healthy bake sale, and (2) a cafeteria tasting. Either way I'll have the opportunity to put them into more of a leadership role and really show them the potential impact they can make on others.
NL: A coworker recently asked me what it was like at this facility and I summed up my evaluation of the culture there in one word: confusion. Any time I travel to this site the staff seemed frazzled and the students do not demonstrate any kind of regard for their education. Now, granted they are in this facility because of behavioral issues in past schooling, but if now is not the time for a structured and engaging curriculum and respectful relationships to rehabilitate these students, I don't know when is. The level of frustration I feel on going to this site and interacting with the students is undescribable. These young men have the capacity for valuable creative thought and leadership if only they were put into a position to exhibit it. Staff should be evaluating what student interest lies in and bringing in programs to push and develop those interests into passions and possible career paths. Thereby management opens avenues for discipline as students not complying will not be rewarded with those interesting programs. Instead what I see are adults trying their hardest to hold a sinking ship together for one more day. Unfortunately, the days are numbered and the students are counting them down.