Hands on at Edison with Rita Gaither

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Photo: Rita Gaither

• January 9, 2015

Today I was invited to Dr. Rita Gaither’s and Staci Feola-Elbadry Food and Nutrition Class at Edison where, to my delight, we made blueberry loaf bread. Gaither and Feola-Elbadry’s program, the first of its kind in the District, is not like other somewhat similar Home and Career classes.

The Program serves a special group of students who are considered within the New York State Alternate Assessment framework (about 1 percent of the District’s population). Food and Nutrition education are only one part of the Program which also focuses on life skills, independent living, self-sufficiency and attainable occupational goals.

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Photo provided by Rita

After having been out of the classroom for over twenty years, Gaither and Feola-Elbadry were recruited to get the new initiative off the ground, for this year and beyond. And, Gaither has thrown herself into it with the same zeal she shows in her other community activism, including Pearl Ministries Inc. (a 501 c3 non-profit) which she founded.

This year alone the class has been involved in multiple community activities: holding a Thanksgiving dinner at the Flint Street Rec Center, assisted a ninety three year old woman pay her RG&E bill, visited an elderly woman who had heart surgery, worked with pregnant or parenting teams in the Pathways to Success Program, collected items for newcomers from all over the world, and participated in three bereavement activities for local youth and community members. They also went on the Mayor’s clergy walk and acted as the Mayor’s ambassador by passing out recreation and job literature.

In September, Gaither did not know what to expect, especially since she is not Special Education certified. Now, about four months later she considers what the class has accomplished for themselves, their families and their community to be the “most profound and rewarding experience of my extensive educational career.”

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Photo provided by Rita

And the bread was delicious.

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