Life is sweet for the classes of Amy Capman and Cheryl Cawley.

The middle and high school life skills teachers, respectively, work to provide their students at Mid Valley Secondary Center with independent-living skills that will benefit them as adults.

Between math, reading and writing, there’s also everyday lessons from money skills to cooking.

The latter piqued Local Flavor’s interest, especially the recipe for Holiday Cut-out Cookies that the classes make during the season.

“We started our own tradition,” Cawley said during a recent afternoon inside her classroom. “Everyone has a job to do, and everyone does their part.”

The recipe — which earned the classes a $50 grocery gift card from Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore, through Local Flavor Gives Back — comes from Cawley’s mother. Her family made them each holiday, so after the class moved into a room with a fully equipped classroom kitchen, Cawley introduced the recipe into the lesson. Every year, the students complete all the steps of the process. Each student gets his or her own job to do, from preparation and measuring ingredients to baking, decorating and cleaning up.

“They love baking and cooking,” Capman said. “It’s a big hit whenever it’s a baking day.”

There’s truly nothing like a cut-out sugar cookie at Christmastime, but knowing the love and care that went into the baked good made it taste even better. The cookies came in an array of fun and festive shapes. Sugar sprinkled on the top gave the treats the ideal sweetness.

The students create all different recipes during the school year, which they compiled into a cookbook to take home in the spring. For Thanksgiving, the classes prepared and had a feast complete with all the trimmings, and on select Fridays during the year, the students run Coffee Club. Teachers throughout the building email orders for a coffee, choosing from dozens of flavors or their choice of hot or iced brews. Each student helps, from compiling the orders to making the custom coffees.

Outside of cooking and other lessons, the teachers will take the students out into the community to apply the skills they learned, such as going to the bank or the grocery store.

“I can teach you all day from a book or in a classroom, but to actually get to go out and do it, that’s where you learn,” Cawley said.

While Capman and Cawley’s classrooms are separate, they sit right across the hall from each other. Certain projects, like cooking, bring the classes together, where they work toward a goal. The teachers also commended paraprofessionals Kim Charney and Karen Senkow for the invaluable work they do in the classroom. It’s a collaborative environment for all involved.

“We all do our part to help each other,” Capman said. “You can see that they’re having fun and they form friendships. That’s one of the best parts (of) all doing something together.”

Amy Capman and Cheryl Cawley’s classes’ Holiday Cut-out Cookies
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream together the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Sift flour into the mixture and add baking powder.
Bake at 350 F for 7 to 10 minutes. Decorate with red and green sprinkles or to one’s liking.