Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finding the Joy in Every Day

Post by Junetta Mitchell: Junetta was hired as a baker at Bettendorf High School in 1991.  She currently serves as kitchen manager & spends her time spreading joy to others.

I try to find the joy in every day.  I know that could sound funny to some, knowing that my day starts out around 4:30 in the morning.  Life has not always been a bed of roses, as some of you know I have had fifteen surgeries on my leg in the past three years.  Like most people I have had some hard knocks in life; but I made it and am still making it through. The key is never stay down.  Never stop and never just give up.  No matter what find the joy.   And keep a BIG smile on your face.
I have had a passion to work in food service all my life.  I was taught at an early age how to cook and bake. The joy that you receive by making others smile and enjoy the rich flavor of food is the best part of it all.

The Blackhawk Hotel was where I started this passion doing the Sunday brunch and the Festival of Trees dinners;  making the food and then being able to serve it to people and watch them enjoy and come back for just a little more.  But it took all the team work in the kitchen to pull it off. I also enjoyed baking and decorating wedding cakes.  I guess you can say I enjoy art and sculpting.  Mr. Collins my elementary art teacher would be proud. I worked at the hotel fifteen years and then decided I wanted to be home with my daughter on the weekend so I pursued a job with the school system.

 I came to the Bettendorf school system as the baker in 1991. I was able to make the students smile and talk about all the home made baked goods. The smell of cinnamon rolls, fresh bread, cookies, pies, and just food in general.  Watching the students eating breakfast and lunch was such a good feeling; to know that you used your hands to put a smile on a student’s face to start the day. It is such a joy to enjoy your job and to be able to go home and smile about making someone’s day.

My hat goes off to the staff that I work with now.  We all are different and that is what makes a well-rounded kitchen.  Everyone plays an important role in making the day go well.  If we have a cook and no dish washer we have no lunch or if we have lettuce and no one to put it all together then sorry but no tossed salad for lunch today.  It takes all of the team to make it work, from the Grab-N-Go to the lunch line, the truck drivers, and the servers.  It takes our director to count the calories on the menu and the supervisors to help and support the staff daily as well as the teachers and assistance from our administrators at the schools to the custodians, bus drivers and police liaison. The principals come down to say hello and to see how our day is going.  Now that is joy and it puts a smile on our faces knowing we did all we could to make someone happy.

The joy that children give to you when they have a warm meal to start the day helps all of us in the long run. I am enjoying raising my five year old granddaughter who is lactose intolerant I am gaining knowledge of working with special diets and even pureed foods. We try to make everyone feel good about eating and enjoying a school lunch, breakfast or snack. It takes the para educators that assist in feeding some of the students. The joy of watching some of the students dance or jump when they come through the lunch line just puts a big smile on our faces. We have some of the best students in our school.  When we serve them they say please and thank you and even say hello when just walking in the hallways.

I am not doing the baking or cooking for the district now, but trust me I am out on the floor watching and helping daily. On the phone I am helping parents, students and any staff member when they call. I pick up the phone with a smile and try to spread some joy to them.

Just remember no matter what you do find the joy in it and it won’t seem like such a hard job.  In a few years  I  plan on taking another step in life;  working in Cedar Rapids with young people to help boost them and to keep paying the joy forward.

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