Sunderland Elementary students learn skills while ‘building community through baking’

  • Amy Driscoll of the King Arthur Baking Co., right, has help from Sunderland Elementary School students Ben Gates and Josie Silva, who is braiding a loaf of bread, during a bread baking demonstration Wednesday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Sunderland Elementary School sixth graders Wesley Evans and Olive Klaus with the bread baking kits each fourth, fifth and sixth grade student was given. Students were encouraged to bake the bread over the weekend with their parents so they can donate a loaf on Monday to the Greenfield Salvation Army. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Sunderland sixth grader Ben Gates with the cinnamon buns and braided loaf of bread that were headed to the oven during the Jan. 18 bread baking demonstration. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Amy Driscoll of the King Arthur Baking Co. takes questions from Sunderland Elementary School students during a bread baking demonstration last week. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Amy Driscoll of the King Arthur Baking Co., left, takes questions from Sunderland Elementary students during a bread baking demonstration Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Friday, January 27, 2023

What better way to build community than to break bread? Or, in this case, bake it.

The fourth, fifth and sixth grade classes at Sunderland Elementary School came together last week for one of the school’s first assemblies since the pandemic, during which they welcomed the King Arthur Baking Co. and its Bake for Good program. Bake for Good teaches children how to bake, while linking reading, math and science learning to the process, and then encourages children to bake a loaf of bread at home that can be donated to a community organization.

“I was looking to incorporate the message of kindness and connection,” said school psychologist and counselor Victoria Palmer. “King Arthur Baking Co. really struck me as a perfect opportunity to teach students a skill and help them understand the value of contributing to community.”

Each student was given two baking kits to take home. Once baked, families are welcome to send their children back to school with a loaf of bread on Monday, which will be donated to the Greenfield Salvation Army.

The three goals of Bake for Good, led by instructor Amy Driscoll, are “learn, bake and share.” During her demonstration, Driscoll pointed out how subjects students learn in school mingle with the practical skills of baking, such as using fractions for calculating measurements and how combining ingredients like yeast, flour and sugar together create a solution, not a mixture.

“This is all a science experiment,” Driscoll told the students. “You cannot bake without math.”

Students were led through the process of baking bread from scratch and learned how to make braided bread, cinnamon buns and pizza dough. Student ambassadors and sixth graders Ben Gates and Josie Silva helped demonstrate the practices Driscoll was teaching.

“This is my first time ever doing this,” Ben said, noting he was a little nervous to step in front of his peers, but it turned out to be fun. He also said he is looking forward to baking an additional loaf of bread this weekend to donate.

Josie, who often bakes bread with her family, said it was fun baking bread at school and she is excited to use her new techniques at home.

“I learned that you’re supposed to sprinkle the flour and I learned how to throw pizza dough,” Josie said, adding that donating a loaf of bread next week will be a fulfilling experience. “It feels really good.”

Driscoll said King Arthur Baking Co. works nationwide and the organization’s priority with Bake for Good, which is now in its 28th year, is to connect students with their community through the common thread of baking.

“One of the goals is to build community through baking,” Driscoll said afterward. “When you bake and share, I think you can connect.”

For Palmer, Bake for Good provides an opportunity for Sunderland Elementary School students to reinforce connections with their own families through baking, while also developing a connection to the community through an act of donation. She said the pandemic upended social aspects of life and as the world moves on, students have a chance to reemphasize those relationships.

“We’ve been emphasizing the need to connect and support one another,” Palmer said, “and baking is fun.”

Chris Larabee cna be reached at clarbaee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.