Preparing for Adulthood: Expanding the Traditional Home Economics Focus

Teacher Sara Sobkoviak’s new Mount Madonna School (MMS) course for senior students, Adulting 101, is focused on bringing every-day life experiences into the classroom. The class is an expansion of last year’s Culinary Studies course, with additional topics, including sustainable gardening, healthy living, financial literacy, basic sewing and construction, child development, and first aid.

“My intention with this course is to help prepare our 12th grade students by introducing and practicing real-life skills that will help build confidence as they move into the adult world,” said Sobkoviak. “Within each topic, students are challenged in math concepts, creative thinking, project planning, engineering and design, educational methods, and problem solving.”

Since school began, students have engaged in culinary activities emphasizing basic cooking, including knife skills, tool and equipment identification, kitchen safety and sanitation, and the history of cooking. After their lesson in knife skills, students prepared a noodle dish with the vegetables used during the lesson; while another lesson activity involved identifying different tomato varieties, and learning how different flavor combinations can affect a dish.

Work on restoring the upper campus greenhouse is another of their fall projects. Students worked in small groups to brainstorm designs and garden plans, and then presented to classmates, utilizing colorful aerial blueprints to show how they would improve and utilize the space. To support their learning about irrigation systems, sustainability practices and organic growing, students joined the Pre/K and second grade classes on a field trip to Lonely Mountain Farm in Watsonville help expand their understanding of the importance of biodiversity and dynamic farming to the environment.

Students are also collaborating with second grade teacher Prema Gammons, who has experience teaching child psychology and development, to learn and understand the developmental stages of children from birth to age seven. The older students have spent time weekly to work with Prema and the second grade class, through observation and play, while reading selections from child development psychologists and studies. Students will spend further time in observation with the Pre/K, and will finish their section on child development by creating children’s books with an agricultural theme to share with our community.

For the upcoming second quarter, students will continue their cooking and gardening work, and will also begin a unit on financial literacy. MMS parent and finance professional Kent Kitchel, will meet with the class to discuss student financial aid, budgeting and credit cards. They will also begin basic sewing with costume coordinator Isa Stead, to work on their costumes for Pippin; and will have a sex education review with science teacher Nicole Silva Culberston. San Jose Fire Chief Robert Culbertson will lead a session on first aid and CPR basics.

“Offering our students the tools and experience to thrive as independent, positive, contributing members of society is really what the Mount Madonna School program is about,” commented Sobkoviak. “This course is an important program piece, and a much-needed stepping stone before finishing high school. While this new course may echo what home economics was for many of us when we were in high school, Adulting 101 is really more expansive. MMS students are actively engaging in classroom activities that will ultimately help to develop new programs within our school and the surrounding communities.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.