Teaching with a Purpose

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by RENEE JACKSON

To say I was a reluctant instructor at the start would be a gross understatement. While I was passionate about macarons, we all know passion alone is not all one needs to be a good instructor. Midway through my first class, after the jitters had worn off and the students were in the kitchen with me, I realized I had been bitten by the bug. I’ve been enthusiastically sharing my love of macarons with students locally ever since.

While my classes have been geared towards adults, in late 2015 I had begun contemplating expanding to include some kids classes. The key would be figuring out how to make the material accessible to a younger audience, especially when it has been difficult for some adults to grasp. I thought about it on and off for the next couple of months but hadn’t really made any progress.  That was all about to change. Fresh off the heels of IACP 2016, I was contacted by a reporter from USA Today expressing an interest in doing a video feature on Mad Macs for their Humankind series.

Turns out she had seen me at a road show I’d recently participated in – where I shared how teaching classes was an integral part of my business, as well as my desire to start sharing that with children and my volunteerism. I thanked her for the opportunity and agreed to do it.  A few days later, I received a call that the story had gotten the green light from the editorial staff. My excitement was immediately tempered when she told me that that they wanted the story filmed within the week AND the videographer had limited availability. UH OH. As a small business owner I knew this was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up and I must admit I liked the challenge of developing a new class of sorts so quickly.

Thanks to my wonderful community of angels who pulled together – from helping find participants on short notice, providing the kitchen space (The Cook’s Warehouse), to volunteering to serve as my class assistant (Brenda Hill, The Passionate Preserver), it looked like this was going to come together.  I didn’t think it was even possible, but on the appointed day the stars aligned and I found myself in the kitchen with an enthusiastic group of young cooks aged 5 to 13.

Much like my very first class, after the jitters wore off, I could feel myself getting into the groove.  Sure, I taught them how to separate an egg and how to pipe macaron shells, but this was gratifying in a different way.  These young people were also learning skills they could use outside of the kitchen like math (measuring), perseverance, and patience (have you ever tried to make macarons???). and that was pretty special.

Excerpted from the Winter 2017 edition of the IACP Cooking Schools and Teachers newsletter. Read the full issue here.


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