Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning (AAPL) students are developing valuable skills they can take into the workplace through the school’s job readiness program, “Look Who Can”. The culinary program includes opportunities for hands-on meal preparation.
“I chose the name Look Who Can for the program because I wanted to make a positive statement that, with guidance, children in care can do anything,” says Jay Bly, coordinator of the job readiness program and a parent-therapist with a residential therapy program for teenage boys.
AAPL would has always prided itself on meeting the needs of every student. Justin is no exception. Once per week, AAPL student Justin prepares lunch in the kitchen with staff. The menu includes simple creations such as soup and sandwiches. Justin enjoys helping in the kitchen and can perform tasks like buttering bread and putting cheese on bread for grilled cheese sandwiches. Buttering bread may not sound like an accomplishment for your average adolescent but for Justin, who has individual staff support and has overcome many challenges it is a real success.
What Happens In The Culinary Program
Once or twice per month, students participate in a cooking class with Bly. Bly selects two students from the high school, and, along with Justin, prepares a major meal involving mostly international foods. Each meal is served to about 20 to 22 people.
Staff members have the opportunity to put in orders, donating a small amount that goes back into the program for supplies. Once the meal is prepared, students deliver it to the staff. “We have received wonderful feedback and everyone has enjoyed the food,” says Bly.
“More importantly, the culinary arts program delivers a variety of life skills to students, including cooking techniques and safe and correct use of kitchen equipment. It also touches on cultural differences, the impact of climate on food choices, leadership development and the social impact of preparing, sharing and serving food to others.” Students also explore photography and publishing skills.
“Overall the culinary arts program provides the basic skills young people need to make healthy food choices and the confidence to prepare a variety of simple meals for both self-sufficiency and social interaction,” says Bly. “More importantly, it creates good memories for students surrounding what is considered by many the heart of any home – the kitchen.”
Bly says his mother started having him help in the kitchen when he was 5 years old and he has enjoyed cooking and preparing new and different foods ever since. He ensures that cooking is a large part of his residential program for boys. “I just feel it is a very important skill for youth to learn,” he says.
Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning provides alternative school solutions for children from the ages of 6 to 21 with emotional or behavioural needs. Skilled staff members work to create positive attitudes about education in children who might normally wish to avoid school because of previous negative experiences. Contact us about fall registration now.