School is back in session and I am feeling kind of nostalgic for the excitement that comes with the first few weeks of a new school year. This is the first time in all of my life, that I can remember, where I am not following the standard “school year” schedule. It’s weird. I feel like I am taking an extended summer vacation, even though I currently have a job and go to work everyday. I am embarking on a new journey, but haven’t completely let go what I am leaving behind.
I never planned on becoming a teacher, it kind of just happened. I love kids and a majority of my work experience from high school through college involved children. When I graduated from college in 2006 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish Language & Literature, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I scoured Craigslist, Monster, and several other online job boards for a couple of months, but was uninspired by most of what I came across. Then, I found a listing to work as an assistant teacher in a Montessori school. It was a charter school (public, but different regulations, funding) and it was on a farm in Golden, CO. After my interview and exploring the campus, I thought, “I could be a teacher, if I worked in a school like this”. I was incredibly inspired.
Fast forward five years later and I have experienced both ends of the spectrum; a charter (FREE!) school that runs a successful farm to table program that feeds all the students and teachers and a traditional public school, in a low income community, where the kids were eating fast-food like meals for both breakfast and lunch. The food programs has the same budget to work with, yet different regulations they had to follow. It made me sick and also sad to see what my students were eating (the only food some of them would get all day). It is possible to serve fresh, healthy meals on an extremely low budget, but it’s not happening in most of our public schools.
This video, albeit almost three years old, gives you an idea of what’s happening in most public school lunch programs and what is possible.