Breakfast for Champions

Boca Raton Elementary Teacher Cooks Up "Breakfast of Champions" for Students
Posted on 05/25/2018
Third grade teacher Theo Wiles, a 15-year veteran educator with the School District of Palm Beach County, spends many early mornings inside the cafeteria at Boca Raton Elementary School. The school’s cafeteria staff, busy preparing items for students’ breakfasts and lunches, greet him with smiles.

“When they see me in the kitchen, bright and early, they always ask ‘who is getting breakfast today?” he shares. That’s because Mr. Wiles is not in the kitchen to scope out a snack for himself, he’s there to don a chef’s hat and prepare an entrée of choice for one of his students who have mastered their grade level standards in the Khan Academy program.

Khan Academy is an adaptive learning tool that has provided success for teachers and schools looking for a solution on how to bring remediation to the lower performing students and opportunities for enrichment for children who are moving faster than the curriculum pace. The program offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that allow students to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.

“The kids love using it,” Mr. Wiles shares. “It’s engaging. Kids have avatars that evolve as their learning evolves. I love how it helps students practice on, above, or below grade level. As a teacher, this is my greatest challenge – meeting the needs of so many different students.”

For Mr. Wiles’ students, success with the Khan Academy program means not only achieving academic proficiency, but a delicious breakfast as well.

“I remember one year I made pancakes for my entire class just because. They were so thrilled. My memory of all of those beaming faces was the motivation. I can’t make breakfast for an entire class every day, [but] I can make the occasional breakfast for a student or two sporadically.”

So cook breakfast he does. While he offers to make anything they want to eat, students have kept their choices simple thus far – no poached eggs or lobster benedicts as of yet. When other students see children sitting in the cafeteria eating a special breakfast prepared by Mr. Wiles, they are motivated to find out how to get a meal of their own.

“Kids I’ve never met before will come up to me and ask, ‘Mr. Wiles, can you make me breakfast?”

While breakfast has traditionally been known as the most important meal of the day, Mr. Wiles and his high-achieving students at Boca Raton Elementary School give new meaning to the phrase “breakfast of champions.”
“[I want] to provide a meaningful, enjoyable [and] memorable incentive to acknowledge hard work and diligence in using the Khan Academy program,” Mr. Wiles shares. “I’m a big fan of breakfast. A good breakfast can set a great tone for the day.”