During my many years as a student, from elementary school all the way through college, the end of summer always marked a period of transition and new beginnings. It meant that after a long summer of sleep-away camp, vacation, or work, I would soon be sitting in a classroom, writing in crisp, new notebooks (or typing away on a new laptop), taking tests, meeting new friends, and reconnecting with old ones. I always mourned the end of summer but looked forward to a new school year.

This fall, I’m going back to school once again – but this time as an educator. I began teaching with Spoons Across America last winter, so this will be my first time teaching many of our lessons, along with a completely new program for first grade students. Instead of picking up mid-year where my predecessor left off, I’ll be able to teach each program in its entirety, from start to finish. Like many students returning (or starting) school this fall, I’m eager and a bit anxious.

This year, we launch Spoons Food Explorers, our new first grade program. It’ll be a new experience for both myself and the students, who will be starting a five-year food literacy curriculum with us. I’m excited to start building a vocabulary for taste with these young students and helping them stamp their flavor passports as they explore food with each of their five senses.

Second graders identify parts of the plant in a Farm to Book class.

I’m also looking forward to meeting a new crop of second graders who have never participated in Spoons programming. This year, I get to read the entire library of Farm to Book titles with them. How will they react when they learn that Fred, a beekeeper in the beloved The Honeybee Man, keeps his bees and makes honey in nearby Brooklyn? What will they think of the local apples we try after reading Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie? I wonder if they’ll enjoy making butter after reading How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? as much as last year’s second graders did.

Children in Take A Taste mash up some delicious chickpeas.

For the third, fourth and fifth graders, it’ll be their second, or even third, year with Spoons. I’m excited to see what they remember from past programs and how they can apply what they learned to this year’s programs. How many fourth grade Take a Taste graduates will remember that magic number of grams of sugar per teaspoon (four!), or that the four basic tastes are sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but not spicy (it’s actually a pain response!)? Will the fifth graders, fresh off a year of Spoons Recipe Days and about to start The Dinner Party Project, remember the basic knife skills we learned (grip the knife in the hand you write with and cut in a rocking motion from tip to heel, while holding your other hand in a “bear claw”), and how much will they have improved over the summer

I’m excited to get to work in the classroom this fall, exploring food with students new and old!