I’ve been with the district for 22 years. I was a middle school teacher at three of the district schools for 18 years. Several years ago, I became the Curriculum Director for the district. I’ve taught primarily English and social studies, but also quite a lot of technology and lots of other “generalist” classes. As a teacher and a director, I spend a lot of time working on ways to make our programs more engaging and relevant for our students.

The Charlie Cart supports food education at Alaska Gateway Schools by providing a seamless connection to our school greenhouse and gardening program.

- Tracie Weisz

Children reached by The Charlie Cart

400 K-12 students, mostly Alaska Native (various Athabascan tribes) in 7 small schools scattered over 28,000 square miles (an area slightly larger than the size of West Virginia)

How are you using the cart and curriculum?

In several ways. Individual teachers are using it to integrate it into other subjects; one of our schools has an exploratory program, and cooking was one of the programs; we have a large greenhouse, and the cart provides a greenhouse “connection” for teachers who aren’t sure how to approach greenhouse learning any other way; and finally, we have a summer greenhouse camp, during which the Charlie Cart is a daily activity.

What is the early feedback about the Charlie Cart tools and materials?

The variety of cooking tools kids get to learn to use is great, the fact that they are easily replaceable if something gets lost or broken, and the fact that there are plenty of them.

Kids seem to respond to the variety, and it seems to be encouraging kids to try new things

And after the greenhouse camp last summer, parents were asking for copies of the recipes because the kids were either saving tasters to take home for parents to try, or were talking about the recipes at home.

Favorite Charlie Cart lesson?

I really like the Banh Mi – it tastes great, uses simple fresh ingredients the kids are all familiar with, keeps all kids busy with preparation, and exposes them to flavors that are often very new to them.

What are some of the challenges and how are you overcoming those?

Curriculum for middle school would be great – we have middle school teachers using it, but only ones who feel pretty confident modifying curriculum or trying out their own ideas. I think more middle school teachers would like to use it if we could hand them curriculum to go with it. It would also be nice if there were more lessons that we could incorporate with the greenhouse. We’ve used everything in there that we could tie in but would always love more.

What stands out most from the Charlie Cart curriculum?

Organization that makes cooking with a class approachable for all teachers.

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