By ALISHA GEORGE
Carroll County Times
ELDERSBURG, Md. (AP) — The smell of freshly baked muffins wafted out of Geoffrey Hoffman’s classroom Thursday.
A teacher walked by the classroom and said, “Are you making muffins again?”
Hoffman’s five-student Learning for Independence class at Liberty High School is famous for its muffin business, named Luscious Lion Treats, which has made 12 different kinds of muffins to distribute to staff members once or twice a month throughout the year. More than 1,000 muffins have been distributed since the business started this school year, many bringing in about a $1 donation.
“We just turned into the muffin crew,” Hoffman said.
The students are part of the Life Skills program at Liberty, where instruction is designed to create ways for special education students to have real-life experience to prepare them for living and working after school.
On Thursday, the students measured out ingredients listed on the recipe so they could make more than 100 blueberry muffins with a crumb topping. Wednesday, the class made 133 chocolate chocolate chip muffins with white chocolate drizzle. They will deliver both kinds of muffins Friday.
Students have to clean up after themselves, wash and dry dishes, and learn about proper sanitation practices while cooking.
“It’s all life skills they’ll need down the line,” Hoffman said.
The students have enjoyed getting to know people throughout the building when they visit classrooms to distribute the muffins. Handling money gave the students the opportunity to practice their math skills.
The class is also selling cookbooks of all the muffin recipes and a dog treat recipe. The class additionally makes money by making and selling scarves and making button pins for the Robo-Lions robotics club and special occasions.
The nearly $1,500 in donations raised by the students through all their businesses has not only given them the funds to buy ingredients to continue the muffin business and pay for other supplies, but has also allowed them to donate money to different charities and fund class activities, such as a class prom, a picnic and birthday celebrations.
The students wrote letters to the charities when they donated money, such as to the Red Cross and Sandy Hook Elementary School, about why they decided to give.
“It’s good for them to know people help them, but they can be good members of society and help others, too,” Hoffman said.
The muffin business inspired a class movie called “The Many Faces of a Muffin.” The movie features the students explaining their unique and special qualities.
Shortly after making the movie, they held a red carpet premiere. The students walked down an actual red carpet and had pictures taken before viewing the film and receiving special awards, Hoffman said.
Nathan Carteaux, a senior in the class, is sad it is his last school year with his friends at Liberty. He will be going into the Transitions Connections program.
That program is for students with disabilities ages 18 to 21 and it focuses on work adjustment and community job placement, as well as independent living and other life skills necessary for functioning within the community.
Carteaux, known as the tech guy in the class, couldn’t pick just one favorite muffin.
Geneva Hansen, a freshman in the class, enjoys hanging out with her friends in the classroom and having a good time.
“We learned how to do teamwork and listen to what each other’s saying,” she said.
She’s looking forward to continuing the classroom muffin business next year.
“People love food and it’s just fun,” she said.
Catherine Gardner, a junior in the class, said her favorite part of making the muffins is breaking the eggs and stirring them into the other ingredients. She enjoys chocolate and blueberry muffins the most.
The two other students involved in the project are senior Taylor Rost and freshman Daniel Ihde.
The muffin business has also given the students the opportunity to socialize with teachers and their peers throughout Liberty, all while practicing good manners.
“It really just gives them an opportunity to be part of the building,” he said.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)