Fall 2018 Newsletter: Lots of New Going On

Meet Mariah & Debbie!

These ladies are amazing, words don’t suffice but let’s just say they compliment each other really well.  Grounded, insightful, detail oriented (at the right time) and always looking out for students.

Mariah is a former Ida B. Wells student!  Now a Job Corps alum, with experience in a variety of cafes, she brings a grounded understanding and talent into the classroom.

Debbie has been a backbone to Heat of the Kitchen for years! First as a volunteer, now she is in the forefront, driving the class and reaching students as she teaches.

Everyone wants to hang out with these two!

AND About Those Collaborations…

Yes, we are so grateful!  Here are some of the collaborations that Debbie and Mariah have been cooking up:

Thursday Sandwich 

Thanks to SFUSD’s Future Food Design Team and Josey Baker Bread, we are able to feature these amazing sandwiches as an option to our Thursday lunch.   It may not sound like much but it has opened doors to possibilities for changes in the future and the students truly appreciate them!

 

 

B. Wells Farmer’s Market

 

 

B Wells Farmer’s Market – an experiment, but a great tie in to taking overages of produce and getting them to those who could really use them.  Thanks to SF Wholesale Produce, our teachers pick up overages of produce and then are able to repackage them and give them away to students.

Save the Date!  The Green Room at The War Memorial- March 14, 2019

This plans to be a much larger collaboration than we have ever done before!  Please save the date for Thursday, March 14, 2019, where many youth culinary groups will come together to serve a BIG Long Table Dinner styled event at The Green Room.   Are we excited? YESSSS!  Please save that date.

 

Back to now –

Long Table Dinner 10 Tickets are here—>

Thank you!

 

Mindsets


Growth mindset?  A lot of our students hadn’t heard this term.  “You mean code switching?”  Not really.  It is more like a mental belief system, if that makes sense.

Yes, you can build your own inner thought structure. Teens normally give you pretty suspicious looks when you talk about this, but this quarter’s students were curious and one student was inspired enough to make this drawing.

I remember how shocked I was when I realized I could choose how I thought about something.  Ask any baker, gardener, even avid walker or runner (or try this yourself) and you might also find that getting your hands busy in something helps uncover this ability and helps you step above that frenetic frontal lobe, much like a sea bird coasting over the ocean. The mind/body connection is stronger than we allow it to be.  So my reminder this quarter to myself is when in doubt (or worry), to put down the screen and get my hands busy.

Grateful.

SF Wholesale Produce donation made delicious salsa

Our first quarter is already done! Here are a few snippets of the ingredients in some of our newer projects this year.  What makes these projects extra special is that they are using produce donated by two great organizations: SF Wholesale Produce (.org) and Bi-Rite Market.

A student favorite: frittata with vegetables & herbs.
Rainbow Chard from Bi-Rite Market used in breakfast frittatas and our pilot “Harvest Tasting.”

Thanks to them, we’ve already served over 100 nourishing tastes!

As we start our 2nd quarter, we are thinking of all the farmers and families affected by the recent fires and are so grateful for what we have. Thank you Bi-Rite Market and SF Wholesale Produce!

Middle Ground

It has been awhile. A lot has happened with events, garden work, graduation, even childbirth (congratulations Debbie and Chris!!!).

This isn’t the first time I’ve posted the skills and values our students identify at the beginning of each quarter, this set being from our most recent class. But it is a place of beginnings (most of us love fresh starts) and these again remind me of a few things.

First and foremost: students know what they need. Second, when I read these again, I am struck with how much these are skills and values that I want too, which is pretty heartwarming. It may not immediately create a common bond, but is a reminder that we are not that different from each other after all.


The hard part as the weeks progress (and it is only 8-9 weeks that we have together) is to sustain our values while keeping sight of our progress when challenges pop up.You’re having problems with friends or another teacher and aren’t in the mood to work, or you get distracted with others in class and miss some vitals in a recipe.

Any teen may not realize that this happens to all of us and in the workplace all the time. We all make mistakes and have off days. Sometimes what happens next are the best times in class, when we show our human-ness, responding to mistakes without getting personal or reactive (which are learned skills achieved only through practice). What could get charged up becomes an “oh” moment instead, not so bad, and the new understanding brings in a glimmer of trust. We start making connections as a kind of middle ground forms. Then people get a little braver, a little more trusting – and then a “wow” moment happens – what we made is delicious!  Trust leads to accomplishment, leads to appreciation, leads to giving, leads to feeling great about giving, leads to creating even more.  It is the magic of cooking together.

News about Us!

Ida_B_Wells_Exterior
Ida B. Wells 2016 (photo courtesy of Lemanski and Rockwell Architects)

While we wait for some final construction details to be completed, these two articles came out about us and our school:

Paste Magazine Article by Annelies Zjiderveld:

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/06/alice-cravens-thriving-in-the-heat-of-the-kitchen.html

This is a great article if you are interested in learning more about the focus of our class – thank you always Annelies!

Hoodline article about Ida B. Wells reopening:

http://hoodline.com/2016/07/renovation-complete-at-ida-b-wells-high-students-to-return-this-fall?utm_source=individual-stories&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=stories

A good one if you are curious about the renovations and the feel of our new school.  We will be back inside as early as next week, preparing for our students’ returns August 15th.

We are so excited to get started again!

Let the Sun Shine In

2016-05-17 15.52.27-1

Wow. The end of May blew my mind.  We knew we were moving. All of a sudden here we are, unpacking. In our newly tiled kitchen.  With windows. Real working windows!

You know what? I cried a little.
2016-05-17 15.48.08

Continuing around the room, there is one feature we are particularly proud of, something very important. Perhaps only some chefs drool at the idea of a new hood. It is that shiny silver thing on the ceiling, center back. This allows you to bring in the fire power of professional cooking. For us that happens to be a 6 burner gas range. (We like to keep things small yet powerful.) And where exactly is that firepower?  It is waiting patiently outside the room while contractors figure out the easiest way to squeeze it in.  We know it will happen.

So enough basking in this for a bit.  What helped us get through this past year and a half while our culinary classroom was being created?  Our students and their resilience first and foremost, and their willingness to try a hybrid version of our class, definitely.  And there are many more people who helped keep us reaching week after week:

  • Dan Scherotter, he allowed us to use the OC Culinary space part time, which allowed us to actively work with our students again- so important!
  • BiRite Markets, what great staff!  In their busy business, they seamlessly found ways to bring in a few of our students as produce interns at their Divisadero Street store. They are a stellar example of great teamwork in action.
  • NOPA Restaurant, so generous and gracious with our intern there!  True support and best training ground for hospitality and life.
  • De Young Museum Cafe, Jason finding a way to give our students a chance.  Thank you for creating another great workplace and for your involvement!
  • AOHTFS & CTE – Oh acronyms.  These are our academy board and district department. School districts have to be steeped in accountability, but it is artful how in working with these two groups, we can feel that their supporting us in our work is their priority.
  • And most of all, the people I get to work with at Ida B. Wells, in particular: Debbie Guardado and Michael Martinez. One can’t keep doing the same thing over and over (isn’t that the definition of insanity?).  Having a team who understands the heart behind the heat keeps that most important spark going.

Have a great summer everyone!

Remembering Skills & Values

Students always give the best advice on what to teach.
Skills Q2 2016

Values Q2 2016

We got this advice at the beginning of this past quarter when we asked students:

What skills do you want to improve?   What values are important to you?

Our take aways from this past quarter are more than just the pictures in this post may relate, but these speak so much to what we are practicing in our work simulation classes.  You can’t think yourself into improving these skills and holding to these values, you have to practice them. And I wanted to acknowledge them and the hard work of our 3rd quarter students before heading into our 4th and last quarter of the school year. Thank you students!  Before we know it, we will be packing up and moving back into our school site and a brand new kitchen!  I’m glad that this advice will go with us.

Cooking together again!

It has been a long time!  But we have some exciting news to share as we get deeper into fall and winter:

We are able to cook together again while at John O’Connell’s campus! This is a hybrid version of our regular class(3 days a week we travel down to the kitchen classroom), but being able to get active again is huge! We truly appreciate Chef Dan and the staff at John O’Connell who have helped make this happen.  It is making a big difference to our students, to be able to actively cook together again. Pictures soon, just wanted to share our excitement now!

Ida B Wells at JOC week 3

idab outrage 10inch 300dpiI’m not sure who painted this, but it is my favorite rendition of Ida B. Wells.  Someone was smart enough to bring our Ida B. Wells posters and this painting here to John O’Connell High School, to decorate our hallways.

Here in week 3, we are still getting used to things. Two schools in one building must never be easy.  We know it is all for a good reason, to be able to return to our newly renovated school building in a year, made safe and more useable.  So with this move, each school wants to create a sense of community, and at the same time not lose each school’s unique character.  And how is it turning out?  So far the default has to serve the most amount of students consistently.  Ours being a smaller amount of students, means we must defer to the larger flow.  Ida B. Wells students  seem to be developing a stronger sense of separation, isolation, segregation.  Little things, like hearing the other school’s announcements (and what they have access to), to our problems with heat, broken shades, confusion in separate lunch times – these are all becoming bigger things.

We have been talking about characteristics and skills in our classes, as we build resumes. The most amazing characteristic I’ve seen in our students?  Is that even with the frustrations in all this change, they have a resilience in them.  Those that are coming to our classes still smile and/or say hello and are keeping our mutual respect.  You have to look for these silver linings, focus harder on those, while you repair what is not right.   That being said, the words on this painting were Ida B. Wells’ over a century ago.  And they are still true today.   There is still so much to fix.  ~posted 1 1/2 hours into lockdown

Planitudes on moving

culinary plan 2014 10inchI’ve spent the last few months preparing to move out of Ida B.Wells worrying about how to teach a culinary arts class without cooking.  “Well, it’s not really a culinary arts class,” I’ve always told people. It is a work simulation class using culinary as a theme.  Um, and that culinary part?  It is a huge part for me, bigger than I first thought.  It is what automatically connects us, automatically equalizes us, and with our combined efforts, feeds us on many levels.

I have been moping a little that I won’t have the thrill of the stove, the splash at the sink, or the pressure of the period ending bell to accomplish what we’ve been able to these last 5 years.  That and attitudes have been wafting through the halls, perhaps we might be assimilated into the larger school site that will host us?  After all, we are a small, alternative school floating quietly on a increasingly crowded sea of requirements. We don’t fit a mold for good reasons. But one can’t plan anything when your attitude focuses on impending doom.  Instead of planning, you develop a planitude – an attitude that distracts you, like a dark fog.

Then a few weeks ago, I got to sit down with the project team to go over the renovation plans as respects my classroom, a basement area that has been Ida B. Wells’ cafeteria over the last 30 years (although every year I’ve been there I’ve inched into a bit more of it).

And as I sat there, with all these experts, seeing on the official black and white architect’s layout that they are building a real Culinary Arts classroom, with a full hood and ansul system, I started to get excited.  All this trouble we are going through moving out is for good reason – our building is old and broken.  And I have proof on these pages (which I’ve been carrying around with me like a security blanket) that we’ll be able to support students who need an alternative better than ever when we return in 2016.  It really is happening.

Now to get back to teaching and taking care of the students moving with us, with all the value, respect and hospitality we can muster.  There will still be bumps in the road, but it is heartening to see a glimpse into our future like this one.