Meet Anthony, the youngest member of the Fairway Market team. During the day, 14 year-old Anthony attends New York Center for Autism Charter School, which educates children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Except for on Wednesdays, when Anthony puts on his Fairway shirt and heads to the bakery at the Upper East Side Fairway Market. He gets to learn lots of invaluable skills; we get to learn, too. “I like working at the bakery and getting to do all the different things I get to do…I’m proud I’m working,” says Anthony. We’re proud too, and honored to have Anthony as part of our Fairway family. Watch Anthony’s Fairway story!
“Thank you to the entire Fairway community” says Moira Cray, NYCA Charter School’s Director of Transition and Community Outreach. “You have been so welcoming to us.” When the Charter School opened its doors in 2005, there were just four students. They’re now at capacity with a student body of 32, but their mission remains the same: to provide an individualized, scientifically-based education to their students; to enable them to thrive at home and in their communities.
Meghan Janiszewski, an instructor at NYCA Charter School and a former member of our Fairway Paramus team, is deeply invested in helping her kids grow and succeed. She had the brilliant idea that her students and her former employer could make excellent partners. Meghan shared the idea with Lori Levy, Fairway Market’s Director of Trade and Product Marketing. “It was ambitious, but it was something we knew we were going to do right away,” Lori says.
With a student/teacher ratio of 1 to 1 (!), Charter School teachers and instructors are able to help children prepare for life after school. The school is equipped with incredible facilities where students can learn and practice essential life-skills like washing clothes, preparing meals, and even playing Wii.
Some important lessons, though, are best learned outside classroom walls. “The best place to learn skills to navigate the real world is in the real world,” says Moira. At Fairway, Anthony has mastered the arts of making nut butter, packaging pastries, and arranging baguettes beautifully for display. But that’s the mere tip of the iceberg. He’s also come to understand that when he puts on his Fairway uniform, his role shifts: he lets customers pass him in the aisles and in the elevator. He’s learned to be part of a team.
“The first thing he does every morning is check in with me, ask me what is his project for the day,” says Kareem Aarndell, Bakery Manager at Fairway’s 86th Street store. Kareem has been much more than a boss to Anthony. Kareem has stepped up as a friend, mentor, and cheerleader, attending Anthony’s school events and celebrating his birthday.
If Anthony’s experience at Fairway enriched his life and education, it has enriched ours doubly. “The relationship has deepened our ties within the community,” Lori says, “What we’ve learned from these kids and teachers has been incredibly deep and meaningful. We’ve learned to be better neighbors, employers, and people.”
Anthony’s time in the bakery is just the beginning of an incredibly rewarding partnership. Students welcomed spring and celebrated with a ball game at their annual NYCACS Baseball Extravaganza in Harlem RBI Field. Fairway was in the house! It’s been a wonderfully rewarding experience for us, and we can’t wait for what’s next.