National Association of Independent Schools, Independent School, Summer 2022, “Learning Life Skills”
At Summit for the Planet, a schoolwide event held at Mount Madonna School (CA) this past April, seniors from the Adulting 101 class set up a food station where they sold a veggie burger meal along with organic produce from the school’s garden. Participating in this event was just one part of the Adulting 101 course, which Spanish teacher Sara Sobkoviak created and first offered in 2018 to teach seniors life skills, including cooking, sewing, and gardening.
Food — growing and cooking — plays a major role in the course. The idea grew out of Sobkoviak’s interest in culinary arts and sustainable agriculture and is part of a larger interdisciplinary program that she is developing for middle and high school students at her school. Students spend a lot of time in the kitchen and garden. They harvest vegetables and herbs during the summer to create dishes during the school year, and twice a week they serve hot lunches to the entire school. In December, the students hosted an event for staff and school visitors that they planned and executed from concept to presentation. The four-course meal featured butternut squash risotto, an apple walnut salad, bread, and chocolate mousse.
Students learn other important life skills in the class, including managing finances, basic car maintenance, and administering CPR and first aid. They also learn about building and sustaining healthy relationships with a romantic partner, friend, or even a roommate, which supplements some of what they learn in the sex education classes they take in eighth and 10th grades.
“In this class, students gain confidence in their abilities outside of academic work,” Sobkoviak says. “They learn to trust their intuition, make healthy choices, and become a positively engaged member of the community.”