Adam Andrews is the principal at Jackson Middle School in Clarke County, Alabama, and he is no stranger to the education game. Andrews got his start as a bus driver back in college, and has held almost every position imaginable in a school setting.
“I’ve been a substitute teacher, a coach, a teacher, an assistant principal, and now I’m finishing up my first year as principal,” said Andrews. “I have done just about everything but work in the library, and on the custodial staff!”
Before coming to Clarke County, Andrews found himself working all over the state of Alabama, including big cities like Birmingham. After serving as assistant principal in another middle school, he took the helm at Jackson Middle last fall—the same time that breakfast-in-the-classroom was being implemented.
“I didn’t want to come in and change a lot my first year,” said Andrews. “In that sense, the timing was good because breakfast-in-the-classroom was new for all of us—myself included—and we were all going to be doing something different.”
Andrews credits Clarke County schools’ grant officer Craig Hodge with guiding him, and the rest of the school staff, through the planning and implementation process. He also cites Jackson’s kitchen manager Bernice Campbell, whose experience and patience kept all stakeholders engaged during a time when many of them had questions about how the program would work.
“Craig and I coached together last year, so we had a good working relationship,” recalled Andrews. “He offered a lot of help and suggestions. Ms. Campbell really knows what she’s doing, and she’s always open to ideas. I took their lead, letting them show me how it might work. I just opened myself up to listen to their suggestions—especially with their background and experience.”
That experience came in particularly handy when addressing teachers’ concerns about classroom messes during BIC service.
“Teachers have real concerns, and they experience real struggles,” said Andrews. “We could have done more initial communication in that first presentation of [BIC]—that first faculty meeting there was a pretty strong response. They had a lot of questions about how the program would work. That’s where not being experienced with the program can [hurt]. That said, we have a great staff and they embraced the program, and it’s proved to be very positive for us. I think the teachers saw that the good outweighed the struggles.”
Andrews also credits the work of Ms. Campbell in assuaging the teachers’ concerns. Campbell and her staff made sure the program ran as smoothly as possible from day one, and put minds at ease.
“All credit goes to Ms. Campbell! We never had any issues getting the food to the classroom—the staff always has it ready so there is no delay for students or teachers—and that is one thing that really helped in terms of working through those feelings in the beginning of the program.”
When other administrators ask Andrews about BIC, he says he’s happy to answer their questions and to dispel any assumptions they have about the program.
“I tell them that they will experience issues, but then I can share how we handled it,” he said. “The kids are getting what they need, and every classroom does not smell like sour milk! Breakfast-in-the-classroom has many more advantages than it did challenges for us to overcome. I’m interested to talk with some of my teachers about the effect on discipline—hungry children misbehave. In the grand scheme of things, we have kids who are eating now who weren’t before. A little mess, a little stickiness—I would rather deal with that than misbehavior because a child is hungry.”
If you’re an administrator considering breakfast-in-the-classroom, don’t shy away from the idea because it seems too hard, or too unwieldy.
“Breakfast-in-the-classroom is something that was not the three-headed dragon we were afraid it was going to be,” said Andrews. “One thing we try to encourage is seeing the big picture. Is it irritating when milk is spilled? Sure. But kids who were not eating are eating now, and that’s the big picture. BIC has worked well for us.”