Pine Plains students’ lesson in kindness
Left to right: Bryan Arita, Giana Dormi, Alexander Jordan, John D’Alessandro, Cora DiBlasi, eighth grade math teacher Gabby Baker, and Samantha Douglas preparing meals at Stissing Mountain School. Not pictured: Alexa North. Photo submitted

Pine Plains students’ lesson in kindness

PINE PLAINS —  They say that charity begins at home; maybe kindness begins in places like schools, and learning to do good works from teachers and fellow students. Some students from Stissing Mountain School have been involved in cooking meals for homeless people and preparing them for delivery. The students have been doing this for about three months, cooking a large number of meals once per month.

Eighth-grade math teacher Gabrielle Baker works with St. John’s Food Pantry in Kingston, but she also is affiliated with Willow Roots in Pine Plains and the Catskill Community Fridge. Her good works became well known among her students, and some of them asked if they could help.

This proved to be a wonderful teaching opportunity for Baker as well as her colleagues Jen Blackburn, who is the family and consumer science teacher, and Spanish teacher Caecilia Wyman. Although any student can get involved, most of them seem to be eighth graders, possibly because all eighth graders take one semester of home economics. Baker takes care of delivering the meals for distribution and handles the financial costs as well.

Blackburn teaches home and career skills, so she offers the kitchen while Baker supervises the cooking. Wyman is supportive, but her main connection is that her favorite organization, Hope on a Mission, benefits from the endeavors. The group always contributes between 20 and 25 meals to her for distribution through Hope on a Mission to some of the homeless people in Poughkeepsie.

The students make dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken and rice. They learn to package them for delivery, and they learn about helping others.

Cooking skills aside, the students are also learning about giving to the community and a lot about doing unto others.

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