Meet March’s #MICharterHero: Shayla Boose from International Academy of Flint

Buddy Moorehouse
Mar 3, 2024 3:01:37 PM

For Shayla Boose, the Kitchen Director at the International Academy of Flint, there’s a simple explanation as to why she loves her job so much.

“Food means love, and I can just show that to kids through feeding them. I completely agree with that saying, food is love. It’s a great quote, but it's true. It brings me joy when they sit in here eating the food. When they say, ‘Miss Boose, that’s good.’ That brings me joy,” she said.

For the dedication she’s shown to her students and the many ways in which she helps to foster a positive environment at International Academy of Flint, Shayla is the March #MICharterHero.

A lifelong member of the Flint community, Shayla started at IAF six years ago as a lunch and recess aide. She loved working at the school – and the students and staff loved her back – so when the Kitchen Director position opened two years ago, she applied and was hired. She began putting her personal stamp on the job right away – and breakfast and lunch became some of the best times of the day for the students.

“We do a hot meal for breakfast and a hot meal for lunch, and if you stay after school, which a lot of students do, we also provide an after-school dinner. So they're there for breakfast, they're there for dinner, and they're there for the after-school dinner that we serve as well. It was just really important to me to make sure that everything was healthy,” Shayla said.

Serving a student population of mostly economically disadvantaged students, Shayla knows that many of her students depend on the meals she and her team offer at International Academy of Flint. Shayla and the team at IAF understand that children can’t learn if their basic needs aren’t met – and that starts with nutrition.

“You need to have good, nutritious food all the way around and for me it was important to make sure it was good and nutritious, because for some of my students, that’s the only meal they’re eating. This might be the only meal they get all day. I wanted to make sure for breakfast that we always had a hot meal, because cereal is cool, but sometimes you want a hot meal for breakfast,” Shayla said.

Kendra Giles, the Director of Student Services and Operations at International Academy of Flint, said that Shayla has been a rock star in her position.

“She does anything to make the kids enjoy school. So she was committed to making lunch enjoyable because we heard a lot of complaints prior to her taking that position and so she wanted to eliminate that, at least for the majority of the students. And she’s done a really good job of doing that. Shayla’s involved in a little bit of everything. She started as our lunch and recess aide, and she also worked in our after-school program. She’s made connections with kids in a variety of different capacities and so they look to her. They know they can provide her feedback and so she's just a huge resource in the building. Some of the kids even go to her as a mentor because she has those relationships. The kids know that she genuinely cares about their well-being, so she’s a huge part of the community here,” Kendra said.

Shayla rotates the menu on a regular basis and always tries to offer up something nutritious and new for the students to discover. But their favorite lunch item hasn’t changed.

“Everybody likes a good chicken wing and some waffle fries. The staff loves that, too. The kids all love when they see that on the menu. I’m finding they also love broccoli and cheese. I’m always trying to get the students to eat their vegetables, and everything goes down a little better when you put some cheese on it,” Shayla said.

Another huge benefit of her job is that she gets to see her children at school every day. All three of her kids go to International Academy of Flint.

“I had the same situation growing up. My mom was a para-pro at my elementary school in Flint, so I got to see her every day. I love getting to be in the same building as my own kids all day,” she said.

Shayla also cherishes being part of the overall team at International Academy of Flint.

“We’re all just doing what's best for the kids. It takes a team. It takes a whole team, it takes a village and I feel like we're united when it comes to that as a staff for sure. We’re just here to do the best we can for our kids,” she said.

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