Last Monday, my son, Carter, came home from Walker Elementary School with a paper bag full of ingredients. It had some spices and herbs, half an onion, a little cheese, some beans, and some masa flour.

“Dad, we’re making sopes,” he said, organizing the ingredients on the counter. My wife turned at me and said “It’s your turn” with her eyes. 

So it was. I’d been in the background or absent for the other three or four evening sessions where Ms. Ferguson plugs families into a Zoom meeting and instructs her fourth graders through making a dinner. 

We logged on and Ms. Ferguson got right to it. Carter chopped vegetables and put them into a pot with some herbs and spices, brought it to a boil, and dropped it to a medium simmer. Then he started mixing up the masa flour, pressed little balls into flat rounds with a plate, and cooked them on a cast iron skillet.

I heated up the beans and kept an eye on the simmering salsa. Mom got a few minutes to herself. When he was done cooking the sopes, a Latin American dish that ends up looking like a thick tortilla with upended edges, he loaded them up with beans, salsa, and some crumbled cheese. We plated them up together and brought them to the table where we were joined by his sister, Azalea, and Jill, my wife. The kids ate every bit of their dinner, for a change.

Maybe they ate up because sopes are different. Maybe it was because Carter made dinner. But, you know, I really don’t care why. All I know is that they both ate their dinner. I had come home tired, but making sopes with Carter and his class, then sharing them with the family, ended up being the highlight of my week.

Ms. Ferguson was able to create these moments because her class received a small grant from the Ashland School Foundation to cover the expenses. She’s done her job inspiring and motivating our kids. Not only did Ms. Ferguson get my 10 year old son excited about cooking, she got Carter and his sister to both finish their dinners.

So now I’m going to do my job and pledge $250 to the spring campaign. Please join me. Make a generous gift today.

It’s easy. Just visit or mail a check to 100 Walker Ave, Ashland, OR 97520. 

Gabriel Howe is a proud parent of two students at Walker Elementary and an Ashland Schools Foundation volunteer.