Conway High School's Culinary Arts Instructor Jennifer Park has been nominated as ProStart Educator of the Year by the Arkansas Hospitality Association.
This award, for outstanding achievement in high school culinary and restaurant management education, is given to only one teacher in the state of Arkansas.
Park is now a finalist for the National Educator of Excellence Awards (NEEA) sponsored by Golden Corral.
NEEA winners are recognized either by category (Classroom Expertise, Best Practice/Knowledge Sharing and Industry Connection), where each category winner will receive $3,500, or as a finalist for the James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year Award, where one winner will receive $10,000.
“Jennifer is an outstanding teacher and goes beyond the classroom to help students succeed," said Montine McNulty, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitality Association. "Mrs. Park guides her students to work together and helps them develop the skills and attitude important for business success. She has high expectations and her students leave her class prepared for college as well as the industry.”
ProStart®, a nationwide high school program that unites classroom and industry to develop the talent of tomorrow’s workforce, reaches nearly 150,000 students in more than 1,500 high schools across 50 states. Hospitality is the 2nd largest industry in Arkansas. Restaurant and foodservice jobs in Arkansas represent 10% of employment in the state in 2019.
Jennifer Park started Conway High School's Culinary Arts program in 2012. This year 54 students are participating in ProStart.
"What excites me about the educational side of the Hospitality and Food Industry is watching my students recognize the relevance of these courses to their general education," says Park. "They are able to adapt the critical thinking skills learned in our classes to other courses, to the food industry, as well as the in the kitchen. It is a privilege to see them succeed in the kitchen, in school, and in life!”
Jennifer was selected for the award from over 10 ProStart educators across the state and will be recognized in May at the National ProStart Invitational (NPSI), where over 400 ProStart students and educators from across the country showcase their culinary and restaurant management skills in a live-action competition for over $200,000 in scholarships.
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