Sorting and packing: CCHS program builds skills for life

teacher works with students at the food bank sorting food
Keri Martinez, a teacher of the life skills program at Colonie Central High School works with her students at the Northeast Regional Food Bank in Latham, NY.

Learning the necessary skills to be successful in today’s environment is essential for all students as they navigate through their educational experience.   For some students these skills come natural while others need the continued real world experience to build the confidence needed as they navigate routine life experiences while interacting with others.

Keri Martinez, a teacher of the life skills program at Colonie Central High School has taken this sentiment to heart, working to provide students with personalized experiences to take their skills on the road.

Each week, a handful of students participating in the program spend an hour of their time sorting, packing, and breaking down boxes at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. 

“The experience has been tremendous for our students,” said Martinez. “We identify students based on their level of skills and work with them throughout the school year to work on focusing, building confidence, and developing their communication skills.”

“It is so nice to see the smile on our students’ faces when they have the chance to participate in these outings,” said CCHS monitor Nancy Wolff. 

Students who participate in the program also work with other organizations including the South Colonie Food Service Department, Mohawk Humane Society, Sarabella Pizzeria, and Coccadots.

“Our hope is that the students continue to build confidence through these personalized opportunities,” said Supervisor of Special Programs William Boardman. “We feel strongly that expanding their life skills experience to outside the classroom will give our students the understanding of their individual abilities and allow them to continue to develop those broad transferable skills so that when they transition out of the program they are comfortable in a variety of environments.”

If you are interested in partnering with the CCHS life skills program, please contact Keri Martinez at