Davis spices up the classroom and mentors students

(12-16-2010)

"Why is it important to know the history of spices?," a voice spoke up from Bonnie Schweizer's fifth grade class at Evans Elementary. Keean Davis, Adams State College senior, explained how spices were very valuable in earlier centuries, in fact a man with a "house full of black pepper" was considered very wealthy.

Davis, a sociology major with an emphasis in criminology, assists Schweizer in the classroom a few hours a week through the Adams State Lucero Mentor Project. This is his second year working for the Lucero Project, created by a generous donation from alumni Judge Carlos and Dorothy Lucero, through the Adams State Foundation. The intent of the project is to place Adams State students as mentors in area elementary schools to act as role models and provide encouragement and support for students who could use extra attention. There are currently nine Adams State students in the program.

Keean Davis provides one-on-one instruction to Brayan Flores.

Keean Davis provides one-on-one instruction to Brayan Flores.

"When I was younger, mentors made a positive difference in my life," Davis said. "I want to do the same." Davis works with all the students in Schweizer's class and one-on-one with individuals. "I appreciate this experience."

Davis puts a culinary arts degree to good use; once a month he leads the class in a nutrition lesson. On November 11, the lecture addressed common spices including chili powder, cinnamon, black pepper, and vanilla. Eager to participate, students added arbitrary comments during the presentation, "my parents don't use pepper,"..."I shake out pepper and salt and eat it,"..."my aunt hates people who only use pepper and salt,"..."I'm a vanilla man,"..."we love to put chili peppers in our soup." Davis remained calm and collected during outbursts and, with the help of Schweizer, quickly refocused the discussion.

   Keean Davis passes out samples of applesauce to Shlok Rathi and Aidan Campbell.

Keean Davis passes out samples of applesauce to Shlok Rathi and Aidan Campbell.

After learning the origins of spices, their value to civilizations, what part of the plant they are from, and how they flavor food, the students sampled applesauce flavored with the seasonings. Emily Motz enjoyed the chili powder applesauce, "Keean is fun to joke with." Bailey Brubacher agreed, "He is pretty awesome all the time."

Although his career goals focus on sociology, not classroom instruction, Davis relates to students who struggle to achieve academic and behavior standards. "I know where they are coming from. I experienced some of those same issues." He receives personal satisfaction when individuals he helped earn a good grade. "It makes me happy."

By Linda Relyea