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Member Kudos: Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program at Kent Career Technical Center, Kent ISD

2015 Education Excellence Award Recipient

DashBoard, June 24, 2015

The 20 recipients of the 2015 MASB/SET SEG Foundation Education Excellence Awards are some of the greatest examples of unique and innovative public school programs in the state of Michigan. Over the next few months, MASB will share the details of each program from their applications, presented in alphabetical order by district. This week we highlight the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program at Kent Career Technical Center at Kent ISD.

Description: Started in 1972, Kent ISD’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program has served as an exemplary model for training students in this field. The program, based at the Kent Career Technical Center, is the first educational program in Michigan to be endorsed and accredited by the American Culinary Federation Educational Foundation and was recently honored by the Michigan Department of Education with an Excellence in Practice Award. In 2012, the Bakery, Cafeteria and Restaurant at KCTC earned Michigan’s first Three-Star Green-Certified Restaurant from the Green Restaurant Association. The goal of the program is to introduce students to a variety of careers in the hospitality industry, including travel and tourism, food service and lodging. After completing two years in the hospitality program, students are given the opportunity to take the American Culinary Federation’s NOCTI test in culinary arts. Students who receive passing scores can receive certification as a certified junior culinarian or certified junior pastry cook. For the 2013-2014 school year, 60 percent of students passed the NOCTI test and qualified for their certification. In 2014, the program won Trends in Occupational Studies Outstanding Educator Team of the Year Award. In 2015, the program won FSU’s Golden Pineapple Award.

Funding/Resources: The program has six instructors and five support staff who deliver current industry standards with the oversight of a professional Advisory Committee. There is strong industry involvement through the Advisory Committee. Twice yearly, local industry, through the Advisory Committee, review the program’s needs and curriculum. Committee members also participate in student evaluations which happen twice a year. Standards are delivered utilizing state-of-the-art technology, equipment and instructional practices. Students are given the opportunity to rotate through a variety of stations including culinary arts, bakery and pastry arts, as well as travel and tourism. There is 9,520 square feet of lab space for students including a culinary lab, bakery lab and restaurant lab. There are also five classrooms for instruction to take place. All equipment for the program is current to industry standards, is scrupulously maintained and replaced as needed. There is a satellite program located at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, a year-round farmers' market. This location provides a skills kitchen and two classrooms for student use and allows for significant networking with area vendors. The Department, in conjunction with industry partners and post-secondary institutions, offers a variety of scholarship options.

Outreach: The program has developed many partnerships with local businesses along with participating in many community efforts throughout Kent County. This has provided our students with many opportunities for collaboration and communication. Our Advisory Committee is made up of a broad spectrum of area business and industry professionals, as well as representatives from postsecondary education. Our Advisory Committee helps us create and maintain a vibrant and rigorous curriculum for our students. We also collaborate with postsecondary partners to provide opportunities for students to earn college credit. To date, Ferris State University students within the Hospitality Program at KCTC have earned a total of 1,176 credits and saved $396,312 in tuition costs.

Students also collaborated with local nonprofit agencies by volunteering in community service projects, such as packing food baskets for the Kids' Food Basket. This opportunity helps students learn to work with people outside of school on an organized project to better the lives of individuals within their community.

Other communication opportunities for students revolve around marketing, for example students are involved with marketing the program to local school districts. In addition, the restaurant and catering “businesses” require students to communicate with the public. As with any small business, there are many times students are involved in marketing the services. Students have provided menu descriptions for customers and even conducted interviews for radio stations.

Each year the program caters several leadership functions for our local superintendents and school boards. During these engagements, the students give brief speeches to attending legislators and school leaders describing their experiences in our program.

The program’s focus on exemplary standards and cutting-edge practices allows students opportunities for creativity and critical thinking. In 2012, the Bakery, Cafeteria and Restaurant at KCTC earned Michigan's first Three-Star Green Certified Restaurant from the Green Restaurant Association. The Green Restaurant Association graded KCTC in seven areas: Disposables, Energy, Food, Furnishing and Materials, Pollution and Chemical Reaction, Waste and Water. KCTC’s program earned points for its extensive energy saving program, including the use of low-flow faucets and aerators, LED lighting and occupancy sensors. KCTC also received points for its use of energy from renewable sources, including its solar panels and wind turbine. The program worked very hard to identify products that were made with recycled content or were plant-based disposable items, including sugarcane-based plates and corn-based cups. The program works with the Sustainable Agriculture Program to compost all of their kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps. It also works with KCTC’s Alternative Energy Program to process all of their used cooking oil, transforming it into a product that is now used by the county sheriff’s office to lubricate horse hooves for their mounted police unit.

The program emphasizes a "farm-to-table" approach to food and partners with many area farms and chefs. Students take regular trips to local farms to see how food is raised and grown. In addition, the restaurant and bakeries source as much food as possible from local farms. Over 25 percent of our products come from a 100-mile radius of the school. KCTC’s Sustainable Agriculture Program takes all of the kitchen’s compostables and uses it to grow fresh produce from their hydroponics, aquaponics and greenhouse. The aquaponics system, a system that combines fish production with hydroponic vegetable and herb production, has provided tilapia, as well as fresh vegetables and herbs. The Sustainable Agriculture Program also raises a heritage breed of chickens that is later featured on the restaurant menu.

Further expanding the program’s farm-to-table connections, in 2013 the program expanded to include a satellite program at the new Downtown Market, Grand Rapids' urban farmers' market. As the first LEED-certified farmers' market space of its kind in the nation, the Downtown Market features an outdoor farmers' market, a 24-vendor indoor market hall, a green roof, live walls, geotherm wells, rain gardens, incubator kitchens, rooftop greenhouses and the nation’s first demonstration kitchen for kids. KCTC leases expansive commercial kitchen facilities on the second floor and partners with the facility for event catering and places students in internships with vendors and farmers who work with the market.

Results: The program faculty works diligently to maintain and increase imbedded core credits within the curriculum as it pertains to the state-required standards. Currently, students can meet state requirements for .5 credit in Language Arts, .5 credits in Science, one credit in Computer and Technology and one credit in Visual and Performing Arts with the completion of the two-year program.

The program’s instruction model utilizes multiple delivery styles and differentiated learning strategies to reach the needs of our diverse population. For all courses taught, computer technology is heavily used to deliver curriculum content. As a general rule, classes allocate 20 percent of class time to theory or classroom work and 80 percent to hands-on laboratory work. Students are able to review lectures, view videos and demonstrations in this “flipped classroom.” This allows students to be bettered prepared for the practical “hands-on” part of our delivery where the students can be measured accurately on what they can perform. By flipping the classroom, students build a solid foundation outside of class and are then ready for more intensely guided and independent practice during class time.

All students within the program are subjected to a rigorous and thorough performance evaluation administered by members of our Advisory Committee. This experience prepares the students for the postsecondary evaluation process and exposes them to what they will encounter in the workforce. In the fall semester of 2015, 87 percent of the students received an “A” or “B” in their evaluation grade.

The program has agreements in place that allow students to take advantage of dual enrollment and concurrent credit opportunities. Some of the institutions we are currently working with include: Grand Rapids Community College, Great Lakes Culinary Institute, the Culinary Institute of Michigan, the Culinary Institute of America, the Art Institute and Sullivan University. We have a unique relationship with Ferris State University. Students enrolled in our program may take FSU classes while they are attending KCTC at the expense of the district. The student must have a 3.0 GPA in their local district and be realizing success in their KCTC hospitality class in order to be eligible for consideration. Students have the opportunity to take Food Safety and Sanitation for three college credits, Menu Planning and Nutrition for three college credits and Dining Room Management for three college credits. Students taking both years of the program who are enrolled in year two in the advanced culinary class may also qualify for a concurrent credit class with FSU (Principles of Cooking & Baking) where both nutritional components and sanitation skills are reinforced and tested on the FSU final for that course. Upon successful completion of the test and final students are awarded three college credits for class completion. Successful completion of all of the FSU classes after three years of KCTC will result in two certificates from Ferris in Hospitality Management. These courses are taught by FSU faculty and the credits earned are reflected on an official FSU transcript.

In part, because of the work that resulted from the Green Restaurant Certification, Kendall College of Chicago approached KCTC and has been able to work out an articulation agreement. We are the only school in the nation with an articulation agreement with Kendall College.

Placement surveys are conducted on all completers of the program. Results of the last four years show that 58 percent of students graduating in 2010-2011 went on to continue their education; 18 percent electing to continue in the hospitality/culinary field. Thirty-six percent of the students were employed; 30 percent in the hospitality/culinary field. In 2011-2012, 44 percent of students went on to continue their education with 11 percent electing to continue in the hospitality/culinary field. Thirty-four percent of the students reported they were employed; 32 percent in the hospitality/culinary field. For 2012-2013, 59 percent of students are in postsecondary education. Twenty-seven percent are pursuing further education in the hospitality/culinary field. Forty-six percent of the students were able to find employment; 37 percent in the hospitality/culinary field. For 2013-2014, 41 percent of reporting students enrolled in post-secondary education; 24 percent continued in the field of hospitality. Forty-one percent of reporting students are employed, 27 percent are employed within the hospitality field.

Evaluation of students passing the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe test and become industry certified are viewed over a three-year trend. The trend indication shows a total of 69 students passing their ServSafe exam over the past three years with an increase in the number of students passing each consecutive year.

School Year Number of Students Passing ServSafe
2011-2012 19
2012-2013 21
2013-2014 35


Sixty percent of students passed the ACF NOCTI exam qualifying them for industry certification levels of CJC or CJPC. Student passing the test were awarded up to nine articulated university-level credit hours by FSU.

Sixty-nine students have received their industry ServSafe certifications from the National Restaurant Association in the past three academic years.

Total students completing dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment courses in conjunction with FSU continues to increase.
Student total stackable industry and post-secondary certificates and certification have grown for three consecutive years.

Program Coordinator: Luke VanDop, Culinary Instructor, lukevandop@kentisd.org

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