Baking Up Holiday Spirit at Meeting Street’s Carter School
The students and teachers get into the holiday spirit by crafting homemade ornaments.
The Carter School at Meeting Street in Providence serves students from ninth grade to age twenty-two with significant and complex special needs, teaching them everything from academics to basic life skills. Students also prepare for the transition to adulthood through an employment, life skills and independent living center that helps them find ways to join the workforce. And they also have a lot of fun.
Every Monday morning, students make projects in the life skills center. Six students, some sitting in chairs, some in supportive standers and some in wheelchairs, surround the circular table in the kitchen that’s prepped with the required ingredients and baking tools for the week’s baking session.
The Carter School employment center students Nathan Lamb, Megan Lamontagne, Julie Layfield, Katherine Morias, Nina Moura and Noah Gorman have made applesauce, cranberry bread, banana bread and pumpkin muffins (sometimes even gluten free!) and now they’re testing their skills in making cinnamon holiday ornaments. Everything the students make is sold to the faculty and staff in the building. In addition, these ornaments will be on sale at their upcoming Holiday Bazaar for the friends and families of students to purchase for their Christmas trees at home. All the proceeds will help fund the Carter School’s annual prom.
At the start of the lesson, I watch as the Life Skills teacher, Kerrin Martins, walks around and has the students touch and smell each ingredient they will be using for the day. Each student takes a turn measuring the ingredients, dumping them into the bowl, stirring and rolling out the dough, cutting shapes and then frosting the ornaments before they’re ready to be strung and put out for sale. Due to the various cognitive, physical and medical needs of the students, Kerrin and the other teachers constantly adapt on-the-spot to best help each student play a role in making the ornaments.
“The kids love it and I brag that we have the most fun in this spot,” Martins says, “by the end of middle school these guys have learned basically what they’re going to learn, so it’s really fun to get into the real life and leisure stuff that the kids can do when someone isn’t telling them what to do.”
As the classroom fills with laughter, the students at the Carter School sure know how to get into the holiday spirit.