CASSTOWN — Cody Webb’s hands were stained strawberry red as he and his classmates picked their “berry” own buckets of strawberries from Fulton Farms U-Pick fields last week.
The 15-year-old from Casstown had never picked his own strawberries straight from the field, but from his red-stained lips, not all the strawberries ended up in the bucket.
Miami East Junior High School special education teacher Doedee Trostel-Patton said she enjoys taking her resource room students “out of their comfort zone” so they can explore a variety of experiences independently at the end of each school year.
Trostel-Patton, or “Mrs. T-P” as her students call her, used funds from a functional grant from the Miami East Education Foundation to expose her special needs students to life experiences outside of the classroom such as dining out on their own or getting up close to where their food comes from.
“The idea behind the functional skills is to get them out in an environment they might not explore,” Trostel-Patton said. “It’s like we go to the store and see strawberries, but we don’t always fully grasp where they come from. It’s just something extra for them to get excited about and apply their skills from class to out here.”
The FUNctional Fun Club has approximately 10 students in grades 6-9.
The class learns functional life skills to work toward more independence as they transfer from junior high to high school and into adulthood.
“We went to Steak ‘n Shake and they ordered off the menu all by themselves, which some of them have never have done,” she said. “They added it up how much it would cost and figured out a tip. We worked on if they had a coupon, how much would they save. I found out last year most of my students had no idea how to order food because someone has always done it for them. So it’s simple things like that I decided to work on this year.”
It was the students’ goal to go to a sit-down restaurant and order their own meal, Trostel-Patton shared.
“They really look forward to doing these things on their own,” she said. “From ordering their own lunch to cooking on their own, this is just a fun way to tie together all the life skills they learned during the year.”
The students also learned about where their food comes from with the trip to the strawberry fields close to home. Most of the students had never picked their own strawberries prior to this special field trip.
“I liked picking strawberries,” Webb said. “I like eating them, too.”
The students also visited Fulton Farms greenhouses and farm life before heading back to the classroom.
Zebidiah Cornett, 15, said, math is usually his favorite class, but he didn’t mind picking strawberries with his class.
“This isn’t bad. It’s fun to be outside instead of school,” he said.
Jack Kinzer, 12, said, Mrs. T-P “takes us to the store” and picked strawberries alongside his mom.
“She’s a kind teacher and lets us go to the store,” she said.
The class made ice cream pie, had a pizza lunch, learned how to sew buttons, and participated in other activities throughout the year.
For more information, visit www.miamieast.k12.oh.us.
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