Maggie Michaels, The Curriculum of Cuisine
What She Does:
Maggie Michaels is the founder, chief grant writer, and tireless force behind The Curriculum of Cuisine. The Curriculum of Cuisine (TCC) brings chefs (and kitchens!) into high school classrooms to ensure students graduate with essential culinary skills and basic food literacy as a part of their high school experience. TCC’s mission is to support rigorous academic learning while delivering essential culinary skills to enhance student success and foster a lifetime of wellness.
With over a decade of experience as a high school Language Arts teacher, Maggie Michaels has seen first hand just how critical a role food choice plays in academic success. If students don’t eat well, they can’t truly do their best thinking. She knew something had to shift, so five years ago she took what she thought would be a one year leave of absence from teaching to “figure it out.” The Curriculum of Cuisine is a direct response to what Maggie didn’t see happening for students, and what she knew they both deserved and needed as a part of their high school day.
The Curriculum of Cuisine brings chefs into high school classrooms offering young adults the opportunity to learn essential culinary skills through hands-on experiences in conjunction with core subjects.
During the summer of 2012, Maggie piloted a version of this program at Madison High School in Portland. Working with Madison’s Sustainable Agriculture instructor, Susan Wiencke, she created a five week course for credit recovery that paired Language Arts with cooking, and Biology with gardening. It was a great success! In 2014, she did another pilot iteration at Rosemary Anderson High School/POIC, which was met with equal success.
“I’ve been watching what I eat now. I’m a better eater since the class.”
– TCC student
For Spring 2016, The Curriculum of Cuisine is operating in three Portland high schools: Grant High School, Alliance High School at Meek and Milwaukee High School. Each of the programs is unique to the school depending on the partnership and the students’ needs. However all seek to create positive influence in the students’ culinary skills and foster a lifetime of wellness by doing the following:
- Enhancing Academic Learning & Success: Bringing culinary education into the context of core subjects provides hands on learning opportunities—engaging multiple intelligences—in courses where varied learning styles are typically absent. TCC encourages enthusiasm for learning in core subjects, and supports teachers in achieving their curriculum goals.
- Providing Tools to Wellness and Food Justice: Education is fundamental to equity, so TCC equips students with the tools of a culinary skill-set to better nourish themselves, their families, and communities over a lifetime.
- Encouraging Career Exploration: By connecting students with professionals in the food industry, students gain insight and access into career opportunities.
The Curriculum of Cuisine is made possible by partnerships with Portland high schools with the help of funds and donations from businesses and grants. Tax-deductible donations can be made on TCC’s website or contact Maggie for more information on how you can support her program and improve culinary education, health and wellness for students who need it.
“Food just tastes better when I cook it myself.”
– TCC student @ Grant High School
Seeders & Feeders She Supports:
Susan Wiencke (Sustainable Agriculture teacher at Madison High School), Outgrowing Hunger, Rossi Farms, fellow backyard gardeners, Aaron Silverman of Tails and Trotters, Ivy Entrekin, Portland Culinary Workshop, Pixie Retreat, Food Not Bombs, Urban Gleaners, Shandong and Kung Pow and finally, truly, anyone that prepares food with love.
The Curriculum of Cuisine in the Press:
“The Curriculum of Cuisine” [National Farm to School Network – March 11, 2016]
“Bringing cooking back into Portland’s classrooms: Former teacher pushes food as education” [The Oregonian – April 5, 2014]
“What’s Cooking at Portland Public Schools?” [Portland Monthly – April 13, 2016]
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