Author Topic: Back to work I go  (Read 5037 times)

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Offline waltertore

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Back to work I go
« on: August 16, 2013, 09:07:07 PM »
I am in a unique situation with baking and pizza making.  I get the summers off and only work 180 days a year.   Being a special education teacher I am on the school calendar with all benifits of a regular teacher. Creating The Smiling With Hope Bakery Program has been a wonderful experience.   Being off this summer got boring.  I prefer to work with disabled students learning job/life skills verse spend my life on me.   Retirement is getting less and less exciting.  As long as the schools let me operate as I need to I will probably die an old man watching a student smile as they dress a pizza, roll out a bagel/french bread.........  I am ready to get back to it so this will be my last weekend of probably posting a lot here so if I seem manic the next couple days you know why ;D.  Walter

http://www.newarkcityschools.org/content_page2.aspx?cid=1032
« Last Edit: August 16, 2013, 09:11:19 PM by waltertore »


Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 04:40:47 PM »
Today was our first day back to school.  My students came in excited and went righ to work.  We knocked out a normal day and didn't miss a beat.  It was very rewarding to see these kids remember everything after the long summer vacation.  Here are a couple pies made by my #1 pizza maker.  She got on it and made about 15 pies today on her own( a bit heavy on the cheese but that was ok).  We now have chef coats with our bakery logo and hats.  The kids really dig that.  Walter

http://www.newarkcityschools.org/content_page2.aspx?cid=1032
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 04:45:17 PM by waltertore »

Online norma427

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2013, 06:13:48 PM »
Walter,

The pizzas look great!

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline communist

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2013, 06:22:18 PM »
Walter, I enjoy reading about your baking at school.  I homeschooled my children and know the value of hands on experience.  Freud says we need love and work.  It looks like you have both of those at your school.  I would love to visit one of these days.    Mark

Offline Cass

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 06:42:17 PM »
Walter, I enjoy reading about your baking at school.

I do too!

Great pictures!  :)

We spend summers at Pymatuning.  If I were a bit closer, I would love to help with anything you wanted to do off season!
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
Epictetus

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 06:56:49 PM »
thanks Norma.  The floresent lighting does nothing for the picture quality as I mentioned to you.

communist:  Thanks.  I find my work very rewarding and I am continually thankful for a brain that works within normal function.  I wish I had enough money to break from schools and open my own little pizzeria/bakery and employ the kids I work with. Public Schools are a mess of paperwork, 1 size fits all, and making my setup work is often an exercise in frustration.  An example is this.  We were originally allowed to sell to the student body throughout the day but the school cafeteria shut that down.  They said we were threating union jobs because we were selling so much.  I replied I thought schools were about kids learning not union jobs......   So now we are allowed to sell our pizzas and baked goods for 5 minutes after the 3rd and final lunch period.  We sell upwards of 100 items in those 5 minutes.  We could easily take over the cafeteria and make real food.  Now it is all frozen precooked, canned, bottled, and just reaheated by the cafeteria.   Nothing, and I mean nothing is made there, and not one kitchen worker knows a thing about cooking, just reheating.  They generate a dumpster of carboard boxes and cans a day preparing food for the entire district and a couple other neighboring ones (about 10,000 meals a day). Our little set up makes more mess than all of their production because we use flour, sugar, eggs, etc..... .  This years biggest challenge is delivery.  I have no other adults in my room and our van can only hold 6 students (I have 14).  Plus each delivery takes upwards of an hour and we have several a week.  That amount of time out of the kitchen shuts all production down and I really have to push to get things done.   We receive not a dime of funding for our program.  All our materials, equipment, maintainance, clothing, towels, licenses, etc, have to be paid out of our profits.    Even if I used our profits to pay for a driver we could not do it because it is a union shop that will not even entertain the idea.  I am sending wishes out to the universe for volunteers to appear to help with deliveries.  I have contacted retirement homes and such with no luck so far.  Jesus said don't go to well, but go to the sick.  Oftentimes I feel like I go to the sickest of the sick working in public schools due to their lack of imagination, creativity, and endless state/federal rules that must be followed to receive funding.   Ours is a very poor school with over 75% of kids on free lunch.  The kids keep me coming back but if we hit the lottery, we play $5/week, I am out of there and will open my own universe!  Walter
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 07:29:10 PM by waltertore »

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 07:00:37 PM »
 As Helen Keller wrote - Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.  I continue to have faith the universe will provide us with all we need to be successful.  That girl with pizza is now a senior and my asst manager.  She can't read or write much above a 2nd grade level but she is better than any of the school employed adult aides in the special needs classrooms.  Today was her first day as asst manager and she did great.  Life is a beautiful thing really.  Keep the Faith Baby!!  Walter
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 07:08:01 PM by waltertore »

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2013, 07:11:34 PM »
I do too!

Great pictures!  :)

We spend summers at Pymatuning.  If I were a bit closer, I would love to help with anything you wanted to do off season!

that sure is kind of you!  I had to look up Pymatuning.  I rarely use a car and in our 6 years here in OH my wife and I have not done much exploring outside of walking/pedaling our bikes from home.  I ride my bike to work everyday except when there is snow and or ice.  I made 110 days out of 180 workdays last school year. Global warming  has its perks ;D


We just got a contract with Denison University's food server - Bon Appetit.  They want us to use Stutzman flour because it is local and they are all about local.   I can't find any info on it.  Anybody tried this brand?  Bon appetit is a class outfit from what I have seen so far.  Walter

http://www.bamco.com/
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 07:20:07 PM by waltertore »

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2013, 11:56:52 PM »
Walter, I might like to go check out your operation sometime if it's allowed and if I'm welcome. Don't know if I'd be able to help you in the ways you seem to need help, but maybe I can be useful in some other way for a short time.

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 05:51:10 AM »
Walter, I might like to go check out your operation sometime if it's allowed and if I'm welcome. Don't know if I'd be able to help you in the ways you seem to need help, but maybe I can be useful in some other way for a short time.

Ryan:  That sure is a kind offer-thanks!  Yes you can come visit us anytime. I will PM you  my home phone.  Walter


Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2013, 07:47:03 AM »
 The universe is good and continues to remind me to have faith it will always get better not worse.   Last year I had to have my full time adult aide removed from my room.  Her cognitive abilities were so low that she couldn't do much except wash dishes and fold towels.  Attempts to get her to learn how to work with dough, ovens, recipes were going at like a 30% success rate.  Because we are a union shop I can't hire and fire.  The principal moved her to another special education room and I went solo.   At that time my #1 pizza girl Paige blossomed.   Now she is my asst manager (you can read it on her coat in the picture above).   She is 100% better than my full time aide and I am now focusing on how I can get outside funding to hire her when she graduates.  As long as she doesn't take away a union job/money she is good to go.    I think it is spectacular that one of my students could be my assistant.  That sums the whole program with how these students can be great workers if given the right training.


Friday I finished my first 2 days with students.  This year my numbers have gone up from 6 to 20.  The 14 new ones are only with me for a period or 2 first thing in the morning.  this  increase in workforce is going to allow us to make deliveries a lot easier.  After lunch I will be able to take my 6 (legal limit allowed in our brand new van, which I secured through a grant) to make our deliveries without much stress.    We sold out all our goods both days, made a load of dog biscuits (all the stores that carry them are out) and even had time yesterday to go to Walmart and buy 2 new wii controllers.   I had to turn away many pizza orders, including my doctor who wanted 4 for his Friday night card game, because we ran out of dough.  Take care.  Walter
« Last Edit: August 24, 2013, 07:52:59 AM by waltertore »

Offline communist

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2013, 03:55:42 PM »
You are starting out the new school year with a bang!  Glad to hear about it Walter.   Mark

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 07:39:04 PM »
You are starting out the new school year with a bang!  Glad to hear about it Walter.   Mark

thanks communist!  This week went great.  We had an order for about 4,000 cookies and I was in deep water to try and get them done.  Lo and behold Denison University sent over a squad of volunteers.   They banged it out with Paige (in chef coat) and myself in no time after school let out.  Paige  made them a buch of pies and sent them home with a few.  It was very moving to watch a developmentally delayed teen make and bake some killer pies for some very smart college students from around the world.  A couple were from NY and said they will be regular customers.  Denison requires its students to do service as part of their experience and several told the supervisor they want to volunteer regularly.  This is another godsend because we are going to be making a lot of bagels for their food service and the students will come on days they need to be delivered.  We will pay them in thanks and our pies and baked goods.  College kids are always hungry!  It sure is wonderful world when I let go of myself and let it unfold.   This forum is one too because I very few people out here to talk with about pizza the way I like to.  Walter
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 09:56:53 AM by waltertore »

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2013, 11:04:04 AM »
I really can't wait to head over there, man. I'm dying to see how you make it work. When summer is finally over (that is, when the pool gets too cold to use), you can expect me to ask you to put me on your guest list. Until then, keep teasing me with more stories and pics.

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2013, 03:22:46 PM »
I really can't wait to head over there, man. I'm dying to see how you make it work. When summer is finally over (that is, when the pool gets too cold to use), you can expect me to ask you to put me on your guest list. Until then, keep teasing me with more stories and pics.

Hi Ryan:  We will be in the groove by then and will welcome your visit (come hungry). I think the secret to it all is that the program gives hope/meaning to historically a pretty much hopeless group.  This in turn excites people in the community to support it because it makes them feel the same way too.   It is a continual win-win situation we are in.  That is why I came up with the name the Smiling With Hope Bakery because if you are smiling you have hope and if your not you don't.  Our school demographics are basically below the poverty line and doesn't have much to celebrate.  Our program is a shining star for the district and as far as I can tell, the only one in the country that is a full time, licensed, bakery/pizzeria that is totally self sufficient.  I was told last week we have the largest bank account of all the districts clubs (band, athletics, etc) and because of this will be audited every month instead of once a year like everyone else. 

Also the move to eat healthier/local/artisan has hit OH just at the right time for us and there is nothing in this area with the quality we put out.  Denison University is buying bagels from us for their cafeterias.  They have been bending over backwards to make it all work without stressing out our production/storage capacities.  Volunteers, offers to help with more refrigerator/freezer space, willing to pay more that other clients, and things like this, has shown me what a class act this university and Bon Appetit (their food service) are.   I look forward to meeting you.  Walter
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 04:05:58 PM by waltertore »

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2013, 05:05:23 PM »
wow, I'll have to backtrack and read this thread from the beginning, but it looks and sounds like you have a pretty neat gig going on here, the kitchen and ovens look like the "real deal"! Great job working with kids like that, gotta be very rewarding to see them progress.

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2013, 06:44:15 PM »
wow, I'll have to backtrack and read this thread from the beginning, but it looks and sounds like you have a pretty neat gig going on here, the kitchen and ovens look like the "real deal"! Great job working with kids like that, gotta be very rewarding to see them progress.

thanks!  It all has come together after only 20 short years of me doing this sort of stuff in schools on a small scale.  I have had more frustrations than I ever want to recall getting this thing to fruition in TX, CA, and now it all has come together in OH.  It is very rewarding and that is what has guided me through the million roadblocks I have hit and continue to hit.  The ovens are IMO one of the best deck ovens ever built- blodgett 1000's from the mid 70's.   I found them a mile away for $1,200 for the 2.  I had to replace the pilot lights and pilot  mercury saftety valves.  Plus add $700 to move them a mile and I have about $2,500 into 2 great working ovens with the original stones.   We bake our pizzas and breads on them as well as bagels (with burlap covered bagel boards).   Because we are not paying wages or having to pay rent/insurance/taxes, I can charge prices that compete with chain places and walmart bakery prices.   The goal is to have work not profit.  But we do need to have money in savings because I get no money from the school district and we have to buy, maintain, repair, all equipment, and basically everything needed to run the place including gloves, aprons, towels, soaps, etc.   We use Grande whole milk mozz and grande provolone loaves and shred/blend them to my specs.   The sauce is 7/11 with fresh garlic, grated DOP Romano Pecorino, EVOO.  The pies are topped with fresh basil when in season, and DOP Parmigano Regiano.   We use all trumps or full strenght flours and all for $7 for a 18"  cheese or pepperoni pie.  Pepperoni is my weak link.  99.9999% of the people around here will not eat a cheese pie so I buy GFS prima gusta pepperoni sticks and we slice them.   I don't eat those pies and have conceded to them so we can sell more and have more work for the kids.   All our baked goods are made with pure ingredients like hand cracked eggs, butter, pure vanilla, cocoa, and such.  Our breads are made from sourdough starter and multiple rises.  Walter

« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 06:56:44 PM by waltertore »

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2013, 06:59:20 PM »
top shelf all the way!

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2013, 07:10:15 PM »
top shelf all the way!

thanks!  I would have no interest in running a pizzeria or bakery if it wasn't for the special needs component. This makes it a passion and if I ever retire or the program is shut down, I will open my own place with former students as my employees.  The young girl Paige pictured in many shots is my star.  She works at a local restraunt on weekends and during the summer and is kind of a savant with dough.  She can easily run both blodgetts and fill an order for 20 pies.  The place she works in buys our breads and and I have cultivated good relationships with them and other clients.  Between all of our commercial customers there is a lot of potential jobs for my kids.The goal is to get them all working in places where people feel the same passion about this as I do and all our clients have this in spades.  Hopefully in a few years most of my students will be working.  This would be huge.  Just having Paige work is huge because this group of people have almost a 100% unemployment rate as adults.  Walter


I post here to help spread the word that disabled people can do far more than we give them credit for and with hopes it will inspire others to hire, work with, share time with, these wonderful people
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 07:19:47 PM by waltertore »

Offline waltertore

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Re: Back to work I go
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2013, 05:46:23 PM »
today was a challenge.  Running a working bakery/pizzeria in a High School with special needs students sometimes makes me think I am nuts.  11 of my 20 students were not picked up by the bus this morning thus missed school.  Of the 9 that came only 4 are skilled at making bagels.  Today was our first day to make/deliver bagels to Denison University's student cafeterias.  On top of this they pulled 3 kids out for some kind of testing.  That lasted an hour.  So with me, and 3 students, we mixed, hand rolled, boiled, baked, packaged, about 500 bagels in a few hours.  We had to make pizzas as well and my dough which had been sitting in the fridge since Thursday (we were off Friday and Monday) was near dead.  Luckily we salvaged it and it came out pretty good.  We barely got the kitchen cleaned up and deliveries done before the school buses picked kids up.   A few times I was ready to cry but when I looked at my students working so hard I sucked it up and kept the ship on course.  It was very moving.  Densison now uses Bon Appetit food services and they are a class operation.  Marble countertops, pastry chefs, real cooks, and even a  Bakers Pride Double Stacked Gas Fired Old World Brick Oven.  the top oven resembles a wood fired oven and the bottom a traditional deck oven.  They make pizzas but they are not very good.

Tomorrow we make/bake 3,000 cookies for Newark City Schools cafeterias, about 500 bagels/1000 cookies for Granville School District.   Then the same for Friday and Monday starts with 30 pizzas for a Rotary lunch.  Man, we are busy.   I am amazed that we pull this off day after day and it will repeat again next week.    Fire drills, lockdown drills, tornado drills, picture day (tomorrow), speech therapy sessions, adaptive physical education class, bells ringing and kids leaving to go to other classes, late arrival days, shortened testing days, and such can really make this project seem insane at times because 99%  of our business is contracts with places that need their stuff everyday on time......   Sometimes I dream of opening my own shop and just making pizzas with a few diasabled people as employees but watching these kids work so hard gives me super human strength ;D and I feel satified at the end of the day.  Getting close to 60, I will sleep good tonight.   Walter
« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 06:08:44 PM by waltertore »