Let’s give a round of applause for our January Educator of the Month, Brigitte Durnwald! A treasured Allergic to Salad veteran, Brigitte has been teaching cooking classes with us for years. With previous experience in agriculture and assisting those with special needs, Brigitte’s well-rounded background makes her a wonderful educator for all kinds of classes. We love her creativity, willingness to connect with students, and passion for education!
We were lucky enough to have Brigitte answer a few questions about herself.
Which ATS Classes do you teach/what ages?
I teach two middle school STEM classes at Spruce Street and STEM class at Kiddie Science with students ages six through ten.
Briefly describe your background in food, cooking and/or teaching, and how did you get started doing this work?
I grew up on the Michigan Wildflower Farm, and 17 years later, I’ve come full circle, establishing the farm’s first educational workshop series with my mother. My passion for locally-grown, seasonal foods has teamed up with a growing interest in native plants, pollinators, and utilization of urban spaces. In the past, I’ve taught English and art in Vietnam, spent 5 years teaching in self-contained special needs classrooms within NYC public schools, and taught kids cooking classes for several organizations. In addition, I regularly cook weekday meals for several families and continue to teach children and adults with special needs in their homes.
I have a real soft spot for Mediterranean fair and fresh seafood.
In your opinion or experience, why is food education important?
There’s a million answers to the question, but I think teaching the STEM courses has really made me a hardcore believer that cooking can be a springboard for foundational learning opportunities in SO many areas. In my classes, we’ve had discussions about how we use technology, farming practices of native people, defining respect and consent, why we make pasta instead of buying a box of it. It’s incredible to have this insight on what younger generations observe and think. I am so motivated when I see my students use a new tool, technique, or try a new food that’s outside their comfort zone.
Want to get to know Brigitte better? Sign up for one of her classes at Kiddie Science in Prospect Lefferts Garden! In this STEM-based class for children ages five to ten, students will learn about sustainability, seasonality, and the scientific method, all while practicing reading recipes, honing their fine motor skills, and participating in hands-on activities. Register online via our Community Classes page!
Thank you for all you do, Brigitte! You’re the best!
Be sure to check back soon for our February Educator of the Month. Until then, happy cooking!