DHS Counseling Department
The mission of the Dexter High School counseling department is to provide high quality, comprehensive school counseling services to all students. Our program, as guided by the ASCA National Model, is designed to help all students develop and enhance their academic, career, and personal/social strengths in order to become responsible and productive citizens. There is a commitment to individual uniqueness and the maximum development of human potential. Through the skillful use of strategic, timely, and personal interventions, counselors customize educational experiences in order to enhance capabilities, close achievement gaps among high and low performing groups and support positive choices.
Read more about our guiding principles, services, standards, and focus areas in our School Counseling Mission Statement.
Dexter Food & Nutrition: Feeding Our Students with Love
by Melanie McIntyre
On any given day in a Dexter Schools kitchen, you can find Food & Nutrition staff preparing healthy meals for our students using locally-sourced ingredients, a wide variety of fruits and veggies and a heaping helping of love. Jennifer Mattison and Roxanne Maze, Food & Nutrition (F&N) Director and Assistant Director respectively, spend countless hours planning menus and finding the best available ingredients in order to provide Dexter students with meals that appeal to both the eye and the appetite.
“Kids eat with their eyes, so we need to make sure the food we provide is fresh, appealing and colorful,” shares Mattison. “For example, in Wylie’s salad bar in September we offered green, yellow and purple beans grown in the Creekside Garden.”
It is important to both Mattison and Maze that the kitchens use locally grown foods, both for freshness and to support area farms. Creekside’s garden provides a limited quantity of produce for the schools in the fall, a source of pride for the Kitchen and Garden students who tend the garden. Apples from Lesser Farms & Orchard and Frosty Apple Orchard, both located in Dexter, were planned to be offered to students from until around Thanksgiving. It is not unusual for F&N staff to handpick produce at local farms – sometimes pumpkins from Wing Farms, other times a carload of watermelons from Ruhlig’s Country Market. Two years ago, F&N interns from Eastern Michigan University made fresh pumpkin pie using Wing Farms pumpkins for 1400 students; a huge undertaking, but something Mattison would like to do again.
“We like to go as local as possible, and then go out from there to wider Michigan sources,” says Mattison.
Farm to School Partnership
The Dexter Farm to School program partners with the District to educate students about where food comes from and the importance of what they put into their bodies. In addition to working with the Creekside Garden and the Kitchen & Garden flex class, this program also works closely with Food & Nutrition to assist with district-wide cafeteria food sampling and other special events to encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Early this fall, students in the Alternative Education program were provided the opportunity to learn about and prepare swiss chard, grown from seed this past summer in the Creekside Garden. Lisa Babe, a Farm to School program coordinator, Mattison and two EMU interns taught students swiss chard’s nutritional value, how it can be used and guided them in preparing a pasta dish and pita pizzas using the vegetable. This hands-on experience widens both the students’ knowledgebase and palate, as they were able to chop, prepare and taste a somewhat unfamiliar vegetable.
Fall tastings in other Dexter buildings began in September with apple chips, a great starting point as apples are always a popular fruit in the cafeterias. At the end of October, F&N and Farm to School offered students samples of butternut squash. After a less-than-impressive reception last year, they changed their tactic when presenting this vegetable again to elementary students. This year, “Halloween Veggie Bites” were on the menu, with the staff planning to dress up to create a fun tasting atmosphere. Samples of butternut squash soup were offered to students in the higher grades.
For the remaining months of the school year, interspersed amongst three Michigan-grown meals, students will have the opportunity to taste blueberry oat bars, a kale salad with local maple dressing and a pickled root vegetable still to be determined.
Three times during the year, students are served a Michigan-grown meal, with all ingredients locally sourced from around the state. This November, the first meal served honored Veteran’s Day with a theme of red, white and blue. The menu included spaghetti (red), fresh bread (white) and some type of blueberry dessert (blue), all made with local ingredients. Two more Michigan-grown meals will be offered in February and May, using seasonally available products such as local asparagus.
Nutrition Is Key
The mission of the Food & Nutrition department is, “to serve students healthy school meals that provide excellent nutrition to enhance student learning.” Mattison and Maze strive to not only give our students the nutrition they need, but to educate them along the way about better choices for a balanced diet. The F&N staff is constantly scouting to find the best products the District can afford. Food offered at all schools is never fried, only baked, steamed or roasted. Breading is always whole-grain, the majority of pasta is whole-grain and brown rice is served instead of white.
At the high school, students are able to buy Annie’s frozen yogurt with their lunch. The yogurt is low sugar, contains protein and probiotics and has great flavor. The cups and cones provided are sized for a sensible portion, and students can get up to 8 oz. and still be under 200 calories. Every a la cart item available at the high school meets smart snack standards, but still tastes good and is appealing. Of all the food served throughout the District, Mattison says, “if we (the staff) wouldn’t eat it, then we aren’t putting it out.”
“The Food & Nutrition staff are advocates for kids’ health,” Mattison continues. “Most of our staff work here because they have kids in the District, or used to. They have a passion for working with kids, and the food they prepare for our students is made with love.”
And the staff likes to have fun while they prepare and serve meals to Dexter students. In a recent tweet from Beacon Elementary, a new F&N staff t-shirt was debuted with the slogan, “Don’t Go Bacon My Heart.” Mattison shares that other staff shirts have been purchased as well with slogans like, “Chop it Like It’s Hot,” “Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese,” and “Watch Me Whip.” These light-hearted shirts provide a point of connection between the students and staff; something they can laugh about together during their brief interactions in the lunch line.
New This Year at Food & Nutrition
In an effort to bolster the communication to students and parents about the food served at Dexter Schools, F&N recently launched a new initiative called Nutrislice, an online menu app. The app allows users to see the menus from all Dexter buildings, and gives the option to select individual schools as favorites. Each menu item is clickable, and gives users the nutritional breakdown for each food item offered, even down to condiments and dressings. It’s an easy-to-use and convenient tool for parents whose student’s paper menu comes home crumpled in the bottom of their backpack, if at all. The app is available for free download through Google Play or the iTunes store. You can also view the menus on Nurtrislice through the menus link on the District's DCSD app.
Parents may have also noticed a slight increase in the breakfast and lunch prices this school year. Every year, schools participating in the USDA National School Lunch Program must evaluate their average meal prices against the USDA minimum price. Upon completion of the evaluation tool, the results showed that Dexter needed to increase their meal prices. The last price increase was made in the 2015-2016 school year.
The resulting increase by $0.25 raised the lunch price for Young 5’s through 6th grade to $3.00, and $3.25 for 7th-12th grades. Breakfast prices increased by $0.15 to $1.65 for Y5-6th grade and $1.90 for 7th-12th grades.
“There are a lot of guidelines we have to follow from the UDSA,” Mattison said, “and we want to make sure we are creating the least impact as possible for families in terms of cost.”
Food and Nutrition likes to keep families informed about what they are doing, and post often on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Mattison and Maze reiterate that they are always here to help, and families are free to contact their department at any time.
Follow the fun on Social Media:
- Dexter Food and Nutrition on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dexterfandn/
- Dexter Farm to School on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DexterFarmtoSchool/
- Dexter Food and Nutrition on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dexterfandn/