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Kate Corcoran is excited that her 2014-’15 5th-grade class at Ridge Road Elementary School is featured in a documentary, THE KIDS MENU, available for purchase on itunes. (Photo courtesy of Kate Corcoran )
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In late March, Ridge Road Elementary School 5th-grade teacher Kate Corcoran went to New York City with several of her friends for a movie premiere—a premiere that starred Kate teaching her 2014-’15 class about nutrition.
“I was really proud and can’t believe how they captured my character...The messages I really wanted them to capture were genuine and exactly what I would’ve wanted all my friends and family to hear,” says Kate. Kate and her five friends enjoyed the screening of THE KIDS MENU that included stories of people from across the country trying to make changes to nutrition in school. After the movie, Kate and others who were featured were introduced and took part in a question-and-answer session.
THE KIDS MENU is a follow-up to Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2, which are produced by Joe Cross. For the past five years, Kate has been using Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead as a teaching tool during March, which is National Nutrition Month. The timing also works because in February, the students study different systems in the body in science.
“The documentaries feature a lot of great animation representing the cells of the body and how they react to poor diet or nutrition. It really grabs the kids’ attention,” says Kate, who began teaching at Ridge Road in 2003. “We watch the documentary, do writing based on the facts we learn, and do math exercises like list 10 foods you eat and ask ourselves, ‘What can we do to make it 30 percent or less processed foods?’ They work hard on making smarter decisions and decreasing processed foods.”
Cross heard about Kate’s lessons through a friend of a friend and asked to see the essays. Cross then approached Kate about featuring those lessons in THE KIDS MENU. After getting permission from the school, the Board of Education, and the parents, Kate taught her lessons in March 2015, not telling the kids a documentary would be filmed at the end of the month.
“I was very excited because it’s something I’m passionate about and for it to get recognition was great,” says Kate. “The essays they write are beautiful and they get very passionate. It was so cool to see the kids’ faces when the production crew arrived.”
Now, one year later, Kate and those students are featured in a documentary that is available for rent or purchase on iTunes and will be streaming on Netflix beginning May 1. The class and the staff involved are hoping to gather for a screening night to view the movie together.
According to iTunes, “In THE KIDS MENU, Joe meets with experts, parents, teachers, and kids, coming to the realization that childhood obesity isn’t the real issue, but rather a symptom of a bigger problem; the lack of knowledge of healthy food; lack of access to healthy and affordable options; and the influence of negative role models, whether a parent, teacher, or even celebrity. All of this seems to be a lot to overcome, but when empowered, kids often make the surprising choice of a healthier path. In this inspiring and hopeful documentary, we see amazing programs, inspiring individuals paving the way for change, but most of all—kids, taking the lead in getting healthier options on their own menu.”
Kate said she was not always interested in nutrition, noting that growing up in the “age of fast food.” Kate remembers eating Totino’s Pizza Rolls and drinking Sunny Delight. When she was in grad school, she worked with a nutritionist. She has also seen the impact teaching nutrition has had on her students.
“I learned how important it was to fuel the body with the right foods and I understood how good nutrition made me feel,” says Kate, who lives in Wallingford. “The students keep in contact over years and say ‘Thank you’ and that they’re still making really good choices.”
Kate loves using documentaries to enhance her students’ education. She recently showed Plastic Paradise in a lesson about the environment and The Scarecrow, which was made by Chipotle, about the importance of “real foods.” And soon, her class will view Kate in her starring role in THE KIDS MENU.
Outside of teaching, Kate enjoys spending time with her family, does nails as a side job at a salon, and enjoys traveling to Rhode Island, working out, and reading. Kate always knew she wanted to be a teacher and loves spending time with her students in her classroom and in her school.
“North Haven Public Schools are fantastic and Ridge Road is such a family,” says Kate. “Teaching is more than reading, writing, and math. There are other ways we need to help them become better people. I try to bring what I’m passionate about into my classroom.”
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