As part of a planned $225 million upgrade to both the Indiana School for the Deaf and the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI), the School for the Deaf has moved from its former location near the Indiana State Fairgrounds to the site of ISBVI on the north side of Indianapolis.
Although the deaf and blind schools will remain separate entities, they will share the same location.
Due to renovations that will be taking place at the site of the schools over the next five years, ISBVI needed a place to host an extraordinary cooking class that was arranged with Christine Ha, the winner of MasterChef season three, for its students.
Christine Ha, pictured, is the winner of MasterChef season three. Courtesy of Christine Ha, theblindcook.com.
Hospitality Administration Department Chair Jeff Bricker was happy to help, offering the kitchen in the Conference Center and Culinary Institute (CCCI) at Ivy Tech Indianapolis. From there, Culinary Arts graduate Jody May took the reigns, facilitating the virtual cooking class alongside Ivy Tech, ISBVI, and the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation.
“This was a culminating experience for Jody May because it brought together both her culinary and education degree experiences that engaged the Chef who originally inspired her,” Bricker said. “Jody's dream has been to teach culinary skills, and doing so with visually impaired students is very rewarding to her, which made it fulfilling for me as well. My greatest pleasure is watching our students succeed!”
May has been working with ISBVI, teaching blind and visually impaired students how to be independent in the kitchen for almost a year.
“I really want to help those students who are getting ready to graduate from high school and go off to college to be independent in the kitchen so they don’t have to rely on somebody else to feed themselves,” May said.
May’s cooking classes at ISBVI were well-received by students and staff alike, and her passion for education and the culinary arts fueled her evening visits to her students' dorms to help them make their own dinners.
“When I did my hours there, I focused on meal prepping. They learned how to use knives and identify tools. And then in the evenings – because they have to stay in the dorms – I would go over there two nights a week to help them cook their own meals,” May explained.
Jody May, 2023 Ivy Tech Indianapolis Culinary Arts graduate, is photographed near the projector during Chef Christine Ha's virtual instruction for Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired students. Photo Provided by Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Ha instructed six ISBVI students step-by-step on how to prepare her recipe for Chinese cold sesame noodles. As someone who is blind herself, Ha ensured she gave the students pointers on how she uses specific kitchen utensils.
The virtual class was an interactive experience full of action that required the assistance of May, Bricker, ISBVI staff, and IBCF volunteers.
“It takes a village to carry out unique experiences like this, and we are extremely grateful for the role everyone played in supporting our students in the cooking class,” ISBVI stated.
Bricker says watching the virtual cooking class with Ha, co-facilitated by his former student, May, was a rewarding experience for h
“Teaching Jody was challenging for me initially because I did not yet understand how it would be possible. But, with the help of Ivy Tech Indianapolis Disability Support Services and a growth mindset, I learned that adaptive tools are available to help visually impaired students learn culinary skills in our CCCI lab kitchens,” Bricker said.
Bricker has been asked to help ISBVI develop a culinary curriculum for its students in pursuit of independent living, and he plans to incorporate May by asking for her perspective as a visually impaired student who has gone through Ivy Tech’s Culinary Arts program.
“I believe Jody May is a trailblazer,” Bricker said. “She will be instrumental in fostering culinary education for visually impaired people in central Indiana as we work together to make our community stronger.”
Ha will be the keynote speaker at the 2023 Through the Looking Glass Gala hosted by IBCF, where Bricker will also be in attendance. Tickets are still available at ibcf.home.qtego.us.
You can learn more about Ivy Tech’s Culinary Arts program here, and you can learn more about Ha at theblindcook.com.
About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.