Ideas Help Teach Skills - Carolina Country
June 2022

Jeanette Williams has been an educator for over 20 years, and is currently working with students at Hobbton High School.

Williams works with the exceptional children’s program, which serves students in grades 9-12, and beyond.

“I currently have nine students in my class, those students stay with me all day, every day for their high school time,” said Williams.

Students in the self-contained class learn basic academics, daily hygiene, self-help skills and job skills.

Williams thought it would be a great idea to give students the opportunity to learn all aspects of running a business, so she wrote a Bright Ideas grant.

The grant, entitled, “Wildcat Country Café”, was written for $2,477.18, and included items like pot and pan sets, hairnets, hand mixers, refrigerator and more.

Williams spent September, October, and November, teaching students about hygiene and safety practices expected for their kitchen work.

"As a teacher you sit sometimes and daydream of all the things you could accomplish if you only had the resources to purchase what you need and how you would enrich learning for your students," said Williams. "To receive a Bright Ideas grant allows you to bring those ideas and projects to your students, to extend their learning and to offer opportunities that you might not be able to offer without the support of a grant."

Once she received the funding and ordered her items, it was a waiting game. Because she was ordering so close to the holidays, shipping delays were part of the package.

“In order to make the kitchen functional, I brought my personal items from home,” Williams said. “I also had to adjust what projects we were completing to match with the items and materials we had available.”

Since returning from holiday break, students have prepared breakfast at least once a week, and menu options have included pancakes, bacon, sausage, breakfast burritos and waffles.

They have also created their own personal pan pizzas, as well as a taco bar.

“I think the most difficult concept to teach students is having them learn to believe in themselves,” said Williams. “As well as realizing they are capable in their cooking skills.”

This is Williams' first year at Hobbton High, but she is determined to give her students goals to work toward.

"I love to cook, and I believe that it is important that my students learn to be as self-sufficient as possible, learning kitchen safety, hygiene and how to prepare simple meals for themselves," she said. "Some of them will be going out in the community to find jobs and the skills they learn with me will help support them to be successful in these jobs."

The students' biggest event this year was the Cinco de Mayo fiesta for staff at the high school. They decorated, planned the invitations, the menu and also cooked and served the food.

"The day was amazing, the kids shined and showed the staff all they had learned, and they were so proud of themselves," said Williams. "It was an excellent way to showcase all we have done so far and to share what the plans are for the future of the Wildcats Country Cafe."

The only struggle the group had was planning how much food they needed. They ended up with a lot of leftovers, but to the students that was a bonus, because they had enough for tacos the next day.

Although there were hiccups in getting the ball rolling, students have been very excited to participate in this program, and proceeds from the meals will be used to purchase more supplies for the cafe.

Teachers: It's time to apply

South River EMC is currently accepting Bright Ideas applications at

Learn more  Apply now

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