Stuck in the Middle: Go Ahead and Bake My Day!
I am always amazed at the diversity of students we have at North Saanich. I often write about how I encourage students to get involved and try new activities and sports so that they can see if they have a passion or talent in these areas. That is why we expose students to exploratory courses like woodwork, drama, art and home economics and also why we offer a variety of clubs, teams and leadership opportunities.
Some students find their passion in middle school, while others need more time and experiences before they find what inspires them. Some are motivated by doing one or two things exceptionally, while others need to have a more varied skill set with a variety of experiences to make them happy. Both are good and I am glad we have both these types of students at our school.
This past week I celebrated my birthday. One student, who has found his passion, treated me with cupcakes. Now this young man can bake! Over my years as a principal, I have sampled more than my fair share of cupcakes. I have a sweet tooth and I enjoy them all, but occasionally I am blown away with the taste, texture and display of these treats. This young man is at the top of my cupcake making depth chart. He knows that I am a big fan of his work, so he occasionally brings me a treat.
The first time he brought me a cupcake it came in a small Rubbermaid plastic food container. On that day he also gave me a second cupcake to take home to my wife. It was a simple chocolate cupcake with white icing, so I wasn’t expecting it to be so delicious. But I was amazed that a grade 7 student could bake like a pro. Wasn’t this supposed to take years of practice, and trial and error? Of course, like most people in middle school I was unable to self-regulate after eating my cupcake. All afternoon I kept looking at the second cupcake. Needless to say, that cupcake never made it home to my wife.
I guiltily washed both containers and returned them to the young chef. I should have given him a proper thank-you card with a compliment about his baking skills, but instead, I took the environmental approach and sent him a message in big bold letters on a sticky note: “Reduce, Reuse and Refill!” Now, this is not my proudest moment as a professional educator, but I still seem to be reaping the benefits of that weakness.
While enjoying my birthday cupcake, I found out that one of our staff members, Mr. Koenig has taken a different approach with this young man and his baking skills. Mr. Koenig is a talented chef himself, and he has challenged this student to a bake off. Of course, as soon as I learned this I volunteered to judge the contest. I know Mr. Koenig has talent, but I am pretty sure he does not know what he is up against.
Since Mr. Koenig is also a musician I have suggested that he take the advice of Jim Croce. There are just times when, as adults working with kids, we must stay away from competing against those who have found one of their talents and passions. As Jim Croce says,
“You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with”…... a middle schooler with talent!
At North Saanich, you just might find one of your passions while in middle school! And if that talent is baking, you can count on your principal’s vote in a bake-off competition...that is of course, if you continue to “Reduce, Reuse and Refill” that small Rubbermaid container.