HHS CLC Creates Sense of Belonging

HHS CLC Creates Sense of Belonging

Chef JoEllen Hothem asks students what they taste in the food they are cooking. What spices or seasonings can they recognize? She also encourages them to make their own choices when cooking during the class, such as selecting ingredients for their personal omelets or deciding whether to bake a savory or a sweet muffin.
Chef Hothem wants the students at Holmes High School to be involved in the process. The professional chef is an instructor in the high school’s Community Learning Center through a partnership with Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center in Covington.

The chef is instructing the students on all aspects of cooking – recipes, measurements, cleanliness and safety.

“The students seem to pay attention to the chef because she has very explicit instructions,” said Julie Wharton, who oversees the high school’s Community Learning Center. “The students look to her for advice and consult with her before completing a task. The chef tries to engage all of the students and divides up the duties to be fair.”

Her goal is to teach basic cooking skills, safety, and explore new ingredients and flavor profiles, Wharton said.

While they are not working in a "chef's kitchen" and may require some on-the-spot problem solving, the chef and students are flexible and understanding.

Chef Hothem comes prepared, bringing all the ingredients and copies of the recipes for the students to take home.

Wharton said she wants students to find out what they are passionate about by engaging in enrichment activities in the Community Learning Center. “I want them to feel good about themselves and know that they excel at something. I want our students to make friends, engage with supportive, caring staff, and learn how to interact in social settings. In addition, I want our students to achieve academically.”

She hopes she is creating an environment where students feel a sense of belonging, feel useful, have influence, and feel competence.

“Belonging, usefulness, influence, and competency are the tenets to positive youth development,” she said.

Another afterschool club that encourages those goals is the newly formed Fútbol Club, which has attracted many English-language learners. 

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