Redefining Success: CMS North PA Baking Company
For Kimberly Politz, the recipe for success in educating her special education students includes creating the PA Baking Company, where her students bake and deliver goods to fellow CMS North teachers each week. The goal of the PA Baking Company is to promote acceptance, teach problem solving skills and develop social and emotional growth amongst the learners.
Each week, Politz’s students bake an item, package it and travel around CMS North delivering the goodies to the teachers who ordered it. Most Thursdays are reserved for baking and on Fridays, Politz and the learners deliver the baked goods.
“The PA Baking Company directly addresses learners’ goals, including money skills, conversation skills, following directions and job skills in the areas of communication, money management and customer service,” says Politz, who is a Transitional Pathways Special Education teacher for grades 6-8 at CMS North.
“We touch upon many of the skills needed to provide a robust career readiness experience that is preparing the path for future success in the workplace for these children, who are ecstatic to be out in the building, delivering and greeting people,” Politz says. “North teachers are also filled with joy to see them.”
PA stands for Practical Academics, which is what the special education program was called prior to becoming Transitional Pathways. Politz is also from Pennsylvania, so the PA name for the baking company fits. Math, reading, science, fine motor skills, interpersonal skills and cooking skills are amongst the many concepts covered through the PA Baking Company.
“These special education students are also able to feel pride in their work and develop relationships with all the educators at CMS North, not only those who teach them,” Politz says.
Her students enjoy baking and working together each week. Natalie Sheppard, who is in 7th grade, says she enjoys baking and delivering treats.
“It’s so much fun,” Sheppard says.
Classmate Purva Hansoti, who is in 6th grade, agrees.
“I love to bake, learn and have fun with my friends,” Hansoti says.
Politz believes in supporting all learners, establishing life-long relationships and teaching to each child’s individualized strengths and abilities. She supports her learners toward their goals in and out of the classroom.
“Being able to foster skills of empathy, caring for others, and building relationships with friends inside and outside of the school setting is something not found in general curriculums, but it is something that changes lives,” she says. “We strive for personal success and a love of learning each and every day.”