Level Playing Field

The students have officially finished the first month of class!! Of the ten, seven remain: It’s going to be a busy kitchen!

For the blog this week, Sonja will tell you a bit about the class.  She also interviewed Anne, one of the instructors, about the other Just Bakery going on this round.  And after that, we have some introductions to the youth.

“So much to do, so much to do.  We are making a dent in our workbooks!  Jaclyn and Anne do a thorough job of helping us retain all of the chapters of information that we are managing to cover in such a short time.  We read and go over all the information until we all understand it.  It’s hard to believe how much we’ve learned in only a few short weeks.

Tuesday, Jan from Project Respect came to check in with us, and also to encourage us to relax (she must know how heavy our backpacks are..).  After, Andrea whipped us up some amazing all natural masks for facials.  I opted for the coffee/chocolate/strawberry facial for the antioxidants and exfoliation 🙂 I could get used to this “wellness” business.

Thursday, River worked with us on creating a budget.  We look at all of our expenses and find ways to cut out some of the extras so we can save for things we want, but without “starving” ourselves.

We all have different challenges in our lives, different reasons we are part of this trauma cohort, but being in the classroom feels empowering.  We are surrounded by our peers, and it feels like maybe, for once in our life, we are on a level playing field.  We share a lot of the same feelings and effects of our trauma, and being in a space that we can comfortably talk about our experiences, anxiety, or the bad choices I’ve made in life, is an environment I think we can all grow in.”

And now, the interview with Anne:

Sonja: MUM has a new cohort; can you briefly explain the program?

Anne: We are trying a Just Bakery Youth Cohort.  We have accepted ten kids from the ages of 14-17.  We have been working with schools to offer an alternative to mandatory summer school.  We have classes such as Baker’s Math, Science, job searching and resume building, ServSafe, and, of course, we spend half the day in the kitchen.

What do you personally hope to achieve?

I want all my students to shine.  I want to help bring the best out in all of our kids.  I want them to be able to move on knowing that they have accomplished something, so when they start to doubt themselves, they already know they can do it!  I believe that they all have this amazing potential that they don’t know they have yet!

How are the students responding to you and the curriculum?

Well, I have high hopes for all of them.  With this being my first time working with teenagers, we are all learning together.  Of course we have our problems, but we work together to make this class amazing.  I think that they all bring a lot to the table and have so much to add to the program.  I feel like a broken record, but they are all so amazing and all in their own way; lots of different personalities in a little room.

What are some employment options for the youth upon completion of the program?

Well, as you can see, we have 14 year-olds, and there aren’t that many options as far as employment go.  However, now they can use what they have learned and use it on their job applications when they do start looking for employment.  Regardless of how old they are, this is great for their resumes!

And now, some introductions to the youth!

“My name is Takeisha.  I’m 17 years old.  I just graduated from West High School.  I’m going to MATC for college starting next fall.  I’m going to own my own business and hair salon one day.  I will be transferring in a year to Atlanta University.  My favorite hobby is basketball and what I like to do in my free time is hang out with my friends, go shopping, go to the movies and get our nails done- do girly things.  The reason why I like Just Bakery is I love to bake and I love working with people and working as a team.  That is fun to me, and it is a great experience working at Just Bakery.”

“My name is Christopher.  I am 15 years old.  I heard about Just Bakery from school and when I heard about it I was so excited to do it!  I wanted to learn how to bake more stuff.  I like to be here now.  I learned a lot more math and cooking.  My main struggle is math and I’m getting better at it.  This is helping me find better jobs and do better on my apps and interviews.”

“My name is Ke’Ara.  I am in 10th grade and I am 14 years old.  I have a very big talent for baking in school.  I do culinary, and at the moment I am going to culinary 3.  This is a really good help for me to be able to do something I enjoy very much.  From this class I would like to get a good experience, extra credits for school to become a TA, and more social skills.  How I’m going to achieve those goals is by using my communication skills, doing as much as I can to learn as much as possible about baking, take the things I’m learning and share them with others that are willing to learn, and lastly, I want to be here to have fun and meet new people.”

“My name is Malcolm and what I admire the most about myself is art.  The kind of art I love is drawing, costume design, prop making, and I’m mostly in love with bringing fictional characters into the real world instead of using mascots, like those costumes you see in theme parks.  I joined Just Bakery because I like baking and I could think of tons of things I can do with a thousand dollars [there is a stipend we are able to provide this cohort] Getting that much money is my straight goal before summer ends, and I would do anything in my power to make out like a bandit.”

“I’m Aaliyah and I’m 16 years old.  I’m from Madison but currently live in Sun Prairie.  What motivated me to come and join Just Bakery is that they offer lots of fun and new opportunities.  Coming to this program was a bit scary at first since I have social anxiety, but the staff and other kids have treated me well so far.  Even though I wouldn’t see myself as a baker, having the skills is still nice.  My plan is to graduate on my 18th birthday and leave the US before I turn 21 and move to Korea to be an early childhood teacher there.  Hopefully Just Bakery keeps up with this program so more kids can have this opportunity.”

“My name is Sharell.  I’m a 17 year old girl who has dreams of becoming an owner of a beauty school and salon by the age of 25.  I’ve always had a passion for hair styling and making people feel good about themselves.  I love seeing others happy, including myself.  I always look in the mirror and smile because I am truly thankful and happy.  It took a lot for me to change.  I come from an unhappy world full of hate, lies, tears, and pain.  I later found out pain is temporary and I didn’t have to live my life unhappy, so I stopped depending on others to love and bring me happiness and began to love myself, accept me, and smile every day.  Appreciate the small things, spread joy, and just live.  I love to experience and laugh.  Just Bakery caught my attention because I love cake and I love art.  Everything tastes better.  Food is an important part of my family.  This program really helps me with my math.  I’m so glad I joined.  I never knew something like this would have ever existed for me or be available.  I’m so thankful. I love you guys!”

“I’m Chrisiana, I go by Chrisy for short.  I’m 17 years old and a senior at Prairie Phoenix Academy.  I was born in Illinois and raised in Madison.  My freshman and sophomore year I played basketball and volleyball and managed it.  I write poetry to express how I feel about certain situations.  When first hearing about Just Bakery, I was intrigued to start because I love baking and cooking.  Also I need the math and science credit!  Doing this program, I’m learning better communication skills and time management.  This helps because after high school I want to own a hair salon and spa, or be a poet, I haven’t really decided.  I am thankful for this program and that I was chosen to experience it with new and wonderful people.”

“My name is Shawna.  I was born in Janesville but raised in Beloit.  I am 14.  My main family member that I look up to is my sister, because she raised me until I was 10.  I came to Just Bakery to interact with other people in my age range.  My future holds me going to become a veterinarian, then find a job and have a family.  I just want to be able to learn life lessons and take care of myself before anyone else.”

And that’s that!  Check back next week to see how our adults enjoy the kitchen, and maybe we’ll hear about what the kids have learned so far!

Our raffle winners this week: Linda, Justin, and Tenishia, who won both the Walmart giftcard and the Short Stack Eatery gift card, generously donated by the SSE ladies! Hard work pays off!!



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