Winthrop Food Program Creates Learning Opportunity for Local Students

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Hailey Martin has seven reasons to smile each day: the students in her classroom at Northwestern High School.

“They just keep me laughing,” she said. “They’ve always got something funny to say. We’re a family.”

For her senior-year internship, Martin, a special education major from Lexington, South Carolina, spends five days a week practicing her craft in the classroom, defined as a self-contained, multi-categorical room. Part of her curriculum includes community-based instruction, which teaches the students various life skills such as counting and using money, navigating a store, interacting with other patrons and more.

Martin helped create and implement an exciting new element for the students’ CBI called the “Farm Raiser” program. She and her students collect orders for fresh, healthy produce via a Google form Martin created and sell it to fellow teachers at Northwestern.

Each week, Martin’s students travel to Dink’s Produce, Aldi or other stores, depending on food availability, to fulfill the orders. Baskets cost $10, $14 or $18, depending on the size. The group typically makes eight deliveries each Wednesday to different teachers, including personal notes from the students and recipes signed with “Made With Love.”

“It’s been great,” Martin said. “They enjoy going out, and they all contribute in some way.”

One student, Regina, said she enjoys going to the different stores. “[Teachers] say ‘thank you’ and ‘have a nice day,’” she said of the delivery process.

Jonathan, another student, said he most enjoys the days when the produce includes oranges because it’s one of his favorite fruits.

Tara Park ’03, ’06, the classroom’s main teacher, said Martin is a welcome addition.

“She has been a pleasure to work with,” Park said. “She’s brought new, fun ideas to the classroom. The students have appreciated that.”

Martin’s passion for the special education field came at a young age. She’s the first in her family to attend college.

“When I was 15, I started working at a Christian special needs camp,” she said. “I’ve also worked in respite care. I fell in love with it.”

After graduating this May, she will officially take on her own special needs classroom in Lexington.