Woody’s Cooks Up Food, Fun for Students with Special Needs

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MAR LIN  --  Woody’s Restaurant at Schuylkill Intermediate near Minersville, students were preparing all sorts of meals for teachers and family and friends.

It’s all part of the culinary program that gives students of all learning abilities a hands-on lesson on what it takes to run a restaurant.

Elizabeth Miller, a ninth grader, at Tamaqua High School, already likes cooking and is happy to be able to work with friends.

“I really like it because then when we are in the lunch room, it’s really fun because we get to talk and we get to do stuff,” said Miller.

The culinary program is self-funded and uses students from the school and nearby districts. In its seventh year, the program offers plenty for students to learn, from prepping the food in the morning as students get to school, through serving food during lunchtime.

For students at Schuylkill Intermediate, it's more than just frying food or using the dishwasher; its learning life lessons and great customer service.

Tom Wood works as the head instructor for the culinary program. He says the goal is to make students ready for employment after they graduate.

“What we like to do is when we get a student, we find out what their needs are and what they can and can't do and hopefully they can work their way up from that area,” said Wood.

In his second week, Justin Ramirez says already he’s learned a ton of stuff while working at Woody’s.

“It is really fun to make things you never made before and try things you never ate. It's pretty fun to do,” said Ramirez.

The students work Monday through Thursday, always happy to serve.

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