Ann J. Inspires Young Readers Through Men’s Cooking Club

Building a lifetime of learning

In Battle Creek Public Schools, literacy is a key focus because we believe that reading and writing build the foundation for a lifetime of learning. We are committed to helping every child grow into a successful, passionate reader. At Ann J. Kellogg Elementary, Reading Specialist Janet Radford is committed to finding fun, unique ways to engage students and help them learn to love to read. One of the ways she has been able to engage her students in literacy has been through the Ann J. Kellogg Elementary Men’s Cooking Club.

Mrs. Radford began as a reading specialist in 2017 after more than 20 years teaching in the district. As a reading specialist, she works directly with classroom teachers and literacy tutors to help ensure that all students are receiving the support they need to become successful, passionate readers. Through this work, however, she has also been instrumental in helping to create a positive school environment for students at Ann J.

The Men’s Cooking Club came about based on a passion that Mrs. Radford saw in several of her students back in 2017. “It was my way of getting them excited about school and excited about learning,” Radford said. “We were talking about how important reading is no matter what you want to do when you grow up. Then Mark [a third grader at the time] said he wanted to be a chef, and I said ‘oh, well we can work with that!”

Mrs. Radford said she had always cooked with her classes as a classroom teacher and thought that recipes would be a great way to get the boys interested in reading. As one of her students stated, “It helps us with our reading because we read before we cook. I really like the cooking and learning to be safe and respectful while we cook and eat.”

Ann J. Kellogg Reading Specialist Janet Radford and members of the school’s Men’s Cooking Club.

The students have learned to cook everything from taco salad to hamburgers and macaroni and cheese. Several of them shared that they have even begun to take their talents home to cook meals for their families as well. And according to Mrs. Radford, the club has been a great motivational tool for the students as well. The club meets every other Friday, and the students know that participation is a privilege that they can earn by putting forth their best behavioral and academic efforts in the classroom. “I’ve seen some tremendous growth in reading over the last three years, too,” she added.The Men’s Cooking Club has seen around 15 students participate since it began in 2017. While the groups have been relatively small, Mrs. Radford shared that this is part of what has helped make the club such a success. “The small group environment and individualized student support, along with activities that maintain their interest, have all been key to helping the students grow both socially and academically within the Cooking Club,” she said.

Get involved

While spaces are limited in the Men’s Cooking Club, opportunities abound at Ann J. Kellogg Elementary for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students who want to get involved. Students have the opportunity to get involved in everything from the Butterfly Girls – a girls empowerment group – to several Student Council subcommittees, and even small group piano lessons offered through The Gilmore and made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For more information or to learn how to enroll, call the school office at 269-965-9773.