The sounds of eggs cracking and timers clicking reverberate through room 506 in Coventry High School. Smell the tasty aroma of more than 200 freshly baked muffins made by the special education class every Tuesday morning and you might feel inclined to peek in.
The sound of eggs cracking and timers clicking reverberate through room 506 at Coventry High School. The tasty aroma of more than 200 freshly baked muffins made by the special education class every Tuesday morning and is enough to capture the attention of anyone passing by.
Every week, four students – Shannon Kenney, Marissa Lawrence, Cody Haupt and Cody Spears – are busy crafting the most popular Wednesday morning snack for students and staff at Coventry High.
"Being able to buy the muffins always makes my day better. I hope the special education kids enjoy what they do and they know how much we love the muffins," Coventry junior Kelsey Garrett said. "(We) students honestly think it's the coolest thing that they are willing to bake the muffins and sell them to us. We love them."
Since the beginning of the program, the special education students have grown to love each other as a family. But baking the muffins every Tuesday and selling them on Wednesday has taught them important classroom lessons as well. The muffin-baking business has taught the students math concepts as well as social and decision-making skills.
"They have to count their money afterwards, see if they made the money they thought they would make with the inventory they have because they pick their inventory," special education teacher Cassie Baldwin said. "Then, they chart by the month (and) by the week (so) they know which muffins sell the best."
Baldwin is also watching as her students develop social skills and learn to interact with their peers.
"They're going all over the school," Baldwin said. "They're asking people 'Can I take your order,' making change for them, and thanking them."
Aside from the skills enhanced through making the muffins, the special education students have a great time baking them. Each student has one task they especially love doing.
Kenney enjoys mixing the muffin mix, Lawrence has fun placing the muffin liners, Haupt likes to do the measurements and Spears loves to crack the eggs.
"You know what's fun about Marissa is that when she does the muffin liners, she color coats them and makes sure they look pretty in the pan," Baldwin said. "The rest of us just dump them in there, but Marissa makes them look beautiful."
Likewise, the Coventry students all have their favorite types of muffin that they enjoy each week.
"I always buy the chocolate chip muffins, they're my favorite," sophomore Sean Sabolesky said.
Every Friday the students either cook or go on an outing with the money gathered from their muffins sales. So far, they've gone to the Apple Orchard, the Hartville Flea Market and the Hartville Kitchen. Along with cooking an entire turkey Thanksgiving week, the students also did something special for Christmas.
"We went to Aurora Farms which was our most exciting (trip)," Baldwin said. "Because our muffin sales have done so well, they each had a $15 budget that they could buy gifts for each other. They were able to get some great deals."
Haupt was especially excited about putting up the Christmas tree in the classroom, along with the secret Santa they were doing.
"We went to Aurora Farms," Haupt said, "and we did a secret Santa where you get to buy for the other classmates and that was the best part."
Everyone within the classroom is treated like a family member. The curriculum is focused on teaching real-life application skills, such as cooking, cleaning, having a debit card and grocery shopping along with the academic instruction.
As for the muffins, Baldwin gives credit to the school and her assistant Kim Bauer. Without the muffin money the students receive each week, they wouldn't be able to go on weekly outings or learn the skills they need to learn.
"The building is just so supportive. Everybody has always been super-nice to my kids. I can't even describe how nice the school is. There is always people telling them 'hi,' there's always people telling them 'I love your muffins,'" said Baldwin. "I went into the office the other day and one of the kids said, 'Hey Mrs. Baldwin, did you know your muffins are trending on Twitter?' I was like, 'What?'"
That kind of support allows the students in Baldwin's class to thrive both in their learning and in their confidence. Every so often, the students take time to develop the friendships they have built with staff members and other students.
For art teacher John Hutchinson, that means he gets special visits from Baldwin's students.
"These kids are some of my favorites to be with because they're so genuine, they're just great kids to be around and I can't say enough about them," Hutchinson said. "They'll show up out of the blue and give me something and they'll come over to see me. I mean, just the other day, I was walking through the hall to get a drink of water and they came and they wanted to come and see me. If I could be over here all the time, I would."