Hi All: Many here know about the program I run for disabled high school students. I have been doing this for 20 years as a special education teacher and 2 years as a teachers assistant(which motivated me to go to college). It has been a very exciting journey and also one full of continual battles to keep it going. This school year, in the past 7 weeks, we have already been forced to change on the fly 2 times which meant I have had to hustle up new clients, create new recipes, and teach new routines to my students (which is harder than most would realize). I have been considering leaving teaching for several years and going off on my own and continuing working with the disabled with a pizzeria. This week I decided it is time to leave teaching. I will finish out this school year and then we plan on moving to Reno, NV, and opening a pizzeria.
I am currently introducing myself/my plan to the NV agencies that serve the developmentally delayed population. I am open to almost anything as long as it includes employing people with disabilities in my shop. A local here that is from NYC wants to finance me to open here in Granville OH but I told him our area will not support my way of doing pizza. That was sure nice of him and gave me great hope that this will all work out. I have a backer that will give me as much as I need to get a shop going with plenty of cushion to allow it to catch on. He is a lifelong friend and a big supporter of my way of working with disabled people. Judy and I have several good friends in Reno and both of us like it there. She is from the Bay Area and wants to get back out west. We both will miss this area for so many good things but will not miss the long icy winters. Reno is rapidly getting more hip with lots of CA residents moving there to retire and it feels like now is the time to get in on the ground floor so to speak.
We plan on getting out there late next summer. Believe it or not my biggest concern is my stack of blodgett 1000's. I never have had an oven crated and shipped cross country. The stones are my biggest worry because they are no longer made and next to impossible to find. Other than that all is exciting about the move with our other worldly things. I am sad to leave teaching but it continues to get harder and harder to do what I do. My program has reached its peak at the beginning of this school year and is already in decline due to new educational laws. The writing is and has been on the wall for many years that I either keep fighting myself to exhaustion to keep it going or move on. Judy and I want to make this move before we get too old and these battles are too much for us. She is 62 and I am 58. Neither of us are afraid of hard work but are wore out fighting the public school system to keep the program alive.
Our shop will be a small one with seating for 10-20, serve 1 size pizza, a few topping choices, no delivery, no soda fountain (bottled artisan sodas/italian sodas/water), an espresso machine, and a set # of dough balls per day. It is time to create my own universe and finish my life working with disabled people without the ever ongoing stuff that derails my program working within the public schools. In 20 years my program has been derailed, canceled, modified, over 50 times, and each time I have fought to keep it running at peak performance. The best (worse) example is 1 week after I won the most prestigious educational award in Northern CA my principal came in with an armload of books, dropped them on a workbench, and told me to get rid of the food stuff and start teaching the books immediately. The publicy we got from winning the award made the adminstration worried I was violating rules and felt it best to shut me down than continue.
My days of fighting are done and I look forward to working my tail off with my own shop. Currently I have placed 5 of my 12 students in jobs and historically 100% of my students never have found work. So I feel the program was a success but the time has come to move it to a greener pasture. I am open to any help with opening a shop from people with experience in this field. I have worked in the bakery/pizza field for most of my life and know how to run the shop, make the products, order, run the books, but have not worked on the renting/owning side. We are meeting with our lawyer to find out how to set up the business. Thanks everyone for all the support I get here. Walter