February 23, 2012

What's Cooking at Graft’s Groovy Grill

Learning the restaurant business as part of
Allie Graft's integrated curriculum
At this time of year Friends’ School asks the Teacher Candidates in our Teacher Preparation Program to teach a curriculum unit.  The best units are those that combine the passions of our TCs with the natural curiosity of our students.  Allie Graft is the TC in Mandy Stepanovsky’s 4th grade class and the first guest author at Among Friends’.  Allie, who came to Friends’ after working with at-risk youth in a wilderness residential setting in Vermont, shares the following about the grand adventures the 4th graders are having at the Walnut Café in Boulder and the surprising star attraction.

Over the past few months, the Friends’ School fourth grade class has been learning the basic concepts of small business operation.  The goal of this project is for students to learn how a small business operates and to have an opportunity to practice their learning in a relevant, hands-on situation.  The 4th graders are achieving this goal through active involvement in creating and running their own restaurant. Students are growing their awareness of how the skills they learn in school are relevant to the workplace, and they’re learning that the hospitality industry and small business ownership are viable career choices for individuals in our world. 

Throughout the thematic unit, our students are developing a restaurant theme and logo, designing uniforms, selecting and pricing menus, preparing food and learning about sanitation, advertising and publicity.  They are discovering about loans and finances, job applications and interviews, and they are practicing restaurant roles and responsibilities.

Allie working with a Friends' 4th grader
After completing the lessons, the students are getting an opportunity to put their knowledge and learning into action, by running a restaurant for two nights.  Our class is collaborating with Dana Derichsweiler, the owner of the Walnut Café, who is graciously letting us use her restaurant. 

Friends’ School students are gaining experience waiting on tables, using the cash register, making delicious hot beverages, and interacting with customers.  Most memorable, however, has been the appreciation for the commercial conveyor toaster. Every kid has been fascinated by this mechanical marvel as it continually turns, churning out toast.

With the help of the Walnut Café staff, as well as parent volunteers, the restaurant, to be known temporarily as “Graft’s Groovy Grill,” will be open for dinner on March 13 and March 14, from 5:00pm-8:00pm.  During these nights, our students will act as servers, hosts/hostesses, beverage servers, and cashiers.  The money we earn through tips and our net profit will be used to buy groceries, which will then be donated to Community Food Share. 

I’m very impressed by the richness of the experience Allie is bringing to her class. Her kids are learning so much more than a traditional school curriculum offers.  If you plan on heading down to the Walnut Café, consider leaving a huge tip.  I’ll see you there.

No comments: