Students from Cartoogechaye, East Franklin, and Iotla Valley Elementary schools got a treat on Tuesday when a representative from King Arthur Flour Company joined the them in the gym of the Iotla Valley School to teach those in attendance how to bake bread through its Life Skills Bread Baking Program.
“The Life Skills Program has three goals: learn, bake, share,” said Life Skills Program Manager, Paula Gray. “The cross-curricular program includes math, science, reading, following directions, and more. Baking is a practical application of those skills and students are eager to use and share their newfound knowledge by baking for others. Plus, they get to eat some of their homework.”
King Arthur Flour is the oldest flour company in the United States and offers a wide variety and baking tools, ingredients, recipes, and educational opportunities.
The program is now in its 20th year and according to the organization, nearly 200,000 fourth- through seventh-grade students across the country have benefitted from the program. According to Diana Cotton, Language Specialist of Macon County Schools this is the second year the program has been conducted in Macon County.
“This is the second time Mrs. Gray has come from Vermont,” said Cotton. “King Arthur Flour sends us over two tons of flour free of charge to send home with the kids to teach them how to do this. She uses a lot of the things they learn in school to show them that they will use this stuff in real life situations. This is a skill that shows you how what you've learned in school helps you in other situations.”
Gray was on hand to give an energetic presentation to the students that were present. She began the presentation by introducing her two assistants, Madison Klimas and Jeremy Putnam. For the next hour, the three of them together would make the dough to be used for bread.
“Baking uses all sorts of things we learn in school like math and science,” said Gray. “Some of my favorite things.”
She proceeded to walk the kids through the steps of successfully baking loaves of bread, frequently going to the audience for participation and often inciting laughter from the teachers and student body in attendance. After teaching Madison how to braid her dough and Jeremy how to toss his to make a perfectly round pizza, Gray gave the students a final instruction as she closed out the presentation.
“Now that you know how to make the bread, I want you go to home and get to work. You can make yourself some bread and you can make it however you want. You can make a pretzel, a pizza, cinnamon buns, whatever you want, but you should also make a second loaf that you can bring back Monday and donate to CareNet.”
The principal had chosen Madison and Jeremy to help with the presentation and they were excited to do so. Hardly keeping from smiling, Madison said that she had never baked bread before, but emphasized how it was important to learn.
“It's important for kids to learn new things,” she said.
“When I make my bread this weekend I'm going to make it in to a braid. I liked that.”
Following suit, Putnam added that they used a lot of the things they had studied in school.
“We used math and science to make it ... there was also a lot of directions to follow,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. She even helped me learn to twirl it to make pizza. It was actually pretty hard.”