Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Students discover their inner baker with community oven

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin


Recently Hamline Elementary students had the opportunity to discover their inner baker, courtesy of an experience created by Amy Schroeder-Ireland and a team of volunteers at Hamline Church United Methodist. Ongoing conversations between the school and the church, and aligned missions to discover and develop meaningful community partnerships, created a wonderful opportunity for both to see what kind of work they could do together.

Hamline Elementary Site Coordinator Aqueelah Roberson’s had an idea that 3rd-grade students could bake bread as a thank you to the Hamline Midway Elders who read with them once a month. Building off of that idea, Schroeder-Ireland developed a learning opportunity and experience students will not soon forget: making bread from scratch and baking it in the community brick oven at Hamline Church.

Having received an in-class lesson on the process, on a sunny May afternoon around forty-five 3rd- graders were greeted on the lawn in front of the brick oven by nine church volunteers (photo right provided). Students learned how the oven worked and helped carry wood to feed the fire. When it was time to make the dough, students moved inside, put on aprons and chef hats, and worked in teams to measure and mix ingredients and knead and store the dough. Students moved back onto the lawn to enjoy a slice of freshly baked pizza, part of the preparations underway for a community event later that evening.

The following week, when students were to return to the church to place the bread dough into pans and sample some freshly baked bread, a thunderstorm kept the kids at school, and the opportunity to complete this process seemed lost. Undeterred and committed to seeing the students have the full bread-making experience, Hamline Church volunteers, Hamline Elementary staff and families loaded up a van with supplies, dough for setting into pans, and freshly baked bread—still warm. A quick trip across Snelling Ave. and the supplies made their way up the stairs to the 3rd-grade classrooms. Students sprinkled corn meal in the pan, carefully transferred the dough, wrapped it, and then enjoyed the fruits of their labor: fresh-baked bread. Each student took a copy of the recipe home to share with their families.

Hamline families and staff remarked that experiences like this not only give students a new way to use their math and science knowledge, it helps them feel connected to and valued by people and places within the community—it becomes another place to learn, grow, and find support and encouragement.

It is also an important experience for the church community; to get to know kids in the neighborhood and create opportunities for shared experiences. Even though these communities are just a block apart, they’re just starting to get to know one another. Schroeder-Ireland is excited to see this happen, “The oven’s purpose is to give back to the community, and it’s important to our congregation to engage with our neighbors and provide opportunities to build relationships in the community.”