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Teachers from four states cookin’ on all burners at WSU

High school teachers from four Western states rolled up their sleeves at Washington State University recently, hungry to get their hands messy as they participated in a unique summer school program.

In chef’s hats and starched white aprons, these 25 men and women educators became students once again, getting hands-on lessons about everything from haute cuisine meal preparation to kitchen knife handling, and from wine tasting to human resource/personnel issues facing the hotel, restaurant, and tourism industries.

Faculty and staff in WSU’s School of Hospitality Business Management spent weeks creating a relevant, yet fun, curriculum especially for this group—members of the nationwide Hospitality Business Alliance. In their home high schools, their students—who are interested in careers in hospitality—participate in ProStart, the school-to-career youth program of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. WSU is one of only eight locations to host cohorts of high school teachers affiliated with HBA this summer.

“We’re excited to give these educators from Washington, California, Montana and Wyoming a taste of our hospitality program here at WSU,” said Terry Umbreit, school director and current president of the Washington Restaurant Administration Education Foundation, the state chapter of the national organization.

“The visiting teachers at this summer institute learned about our outstanding hospitality program at WSU and also saw close-up what an important role they do and can play in helping their students bridge the gap from high school to college and then on to careers,” said HBM Culinary Educator Gene Fritz. “They were so into the university experience that many of them even chose to live in campus residence halls!”

The schedule was challenging, often running from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with classes led by WSU professors on customer service, recipe costing, and lodging topics that include staff development and operations.

Participants also heard executives from the National Restaurant Association and Washington Restaurant Association.

They also went on field trips to Moscow, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, visiting the famous Davenport Hotel, now under renovation, and the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

The WSU hospitality program, formerly known as Hotel and Restaurant Administration, was just re-designated as a “school” and changed its name to “hospitality business management” earlier this month, though the program is 70 years old and a leader among hospitality programs around the world. Students in the program earn a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited business program, and develop special management skills tailored to the hospitality industry. They must have earned at least 1,000 internship hours to graduate; by commencement, the average student has received more than 4 job offers. Students in the WSU HBM program have the opportunity to study abroad at the program’s sister site in Brig, Switzerland. They can join several student clubs that give them leadership and teamwork experience in producing large-scale events—such as the annual, fundraising fall Winefest—as well as intimate, black-tie dinners and events for university administrators and special guests.

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