A Day in the Life of a FoodCorps Service Member: Rocky Mount, NC

This is real, this is honest, this is a Wednesday in Eastern North Carolina.

7:30am: Let’s Morning Routine

Waking up before 8:00am isn’t the norm for me in my service. Don’t worry, night owls; just because school starts now doesn’t mean you have to.

I jam to the Temptations as I brush my teeth and get ready for the day.

8:00am: Supermarket Snafus

I’m trying to teach my second graders about foods that help our bodies “Go!” aka healthy carbs. It’s now January, and I’ve never brought in something totally green for us to taste test. So I decided that this week we would make a gorgeously green pesto pasta. Yesterday, I called every supermarket in the county searching for fresh basil, and only one told me that they had it in stock. The recent snow is not helping.

Here’s the thing: I walk into the produce section and realize that the “fresh basil” that is supposedly here is actually lightly dried basil. In other words, it won’t work for my pesto in T-2 hours.

8:15am: Think Quick!

Now I’m furiously googling potential ideas on my phone. I could stick to pasta, but I don’t want to muddle the content of the lesson on healthy carbs with vegetables or different sauces.

9:00am: I’m Back in the Car, and we PIVOT.

Cue the mild panic. I have no ingredients (indecision got the best of me), and I’m teaching in T-1 hour. As I drive the 20 minutes into Rocky Mount where my office at the Down East Partnership for Children is located (a great local nonprofit), I realize that I can take my class outside to learn about what happens to plants when it gets cold. It doesn’t usually snow this early in the year in North Carolina, and the students have had two snow days, so this could be especially relevant!

9:20am: Gathering the Materials to MAKE IT WORK!

In the office I gather magnifying glasses, soil thermometers, stickers, chart paper and markers. I set up some graphs and brainstorming activities for my students: “What Happens to Plants in the Cold?”

We’re going outside—post-snow—to explore. Frozen broccoli and collard plants can be so very interesting.

10:25am:  Second-Grade Lesson

WE LEARN! I learn that if you tell second graders to smell and feel the broccoli leaves, there’s like an 80% chance they’re also going to eat the leaves. They learn that the ground is 7 degrees cooler under the snow compared to a patch of playground where the sun has exposed the grass.

Bonus: one plastic magnifying glass broke, so I go ahead and deem this impromptu lesson a success!

11:50am: Lunchtime

After I wrap up my lesson, I head back to the classroom with my 28 second graders and we get ready for lunch. I think this is the one day a week where everyone in class eats both a fruit and vegetable at lunch because they know Miss Rhea has a few green bean boat races up her sleeve.

They have green beans with chicken tenders and I have the southwestern quinoa and spinach I meal-prepped for the week.

12:30pm: A Pop-Up Lesson!

After lunch I immediately head to the first-grade hallway because I have a pop-up lesson today! This is my first time teaching in this first-grade classroom: the teacher asked me to come in for an hour because her students are currently learning about the life cycle of plants! I bring in six different edible plant parts, and after a discussion on the four plant needs, and the six plant parts, the first graders get split into groups to figure out if broccoli is a flower and celery is a stem.

It goes really well; these kids are extra sweet because I’m new and taught them a song AND a dance.

1:45pm: Phew, We’re Headed Back to the Office

Baskerville Elementary is only one mile away from my office at DEPC, so I head back to get some work done. Today, that means lesson planning for next week and hopping on a call to talk about the importance of summer feeding.

DEPC is full of hugs from my coworkers (who have all become surrogate moms to me) and laughs. (Everyone likes to laugh at—with—me.) Spending time here is relaxing and rewarding at the same time.

5:15pm: It’s Fun to Stay at the YMCA

I organize my desk and head to the Y. Tonight there’s a great HIIT class, and I’ll need it because tomorrow morning I’m making energy balls with kindergarten, repeating the plant part lesson with another first-grade class, and teaching my fourth graders about lunch tray ecology.

It’s fantastic.

Want to learn more about being a FoodCorps AmeriCorps service member? Head over to our Apply page to get info on where you can serve, what else you’ll be doing, and how you can get involved.