Idaho Potato Commission Secondary Innovation Award:
Evelyn Sussman, Stafford County Public Schools, Fredericksburg, Virginia
It takes a community to train cooks and Evelyn Sussman, culinary instructor at Stafford County Public Schools, has created many innovative partnerships – in and out of the classroom - to assure her students are workplace ready upon graduation.
Sussman’s classroom mimics a professional setting with students wearing uniforms and clocking in and out of class. Students hone their workplace-ready skills by operating a student run restaurant which sees them delivering breakfast or lunch to faculty several times a week. Students participate in everything from receiving and storage, to cooking and delivering, receiving payment and counting money. Sussman also invites a variety of guest speakers from post-secondary culinary programs, corporate managers, chefs, event planners, farmers and other food production personnel, nutritionists and healthcare professionals to talk to her classes. Finally, the culinary program works tirelessly year-round to provide food for school functions such as dances, classroom celebrations, a Teacher of the Year Banquet and Military Ball.
Partnerships with businesses and organizations complete a well-rounded educational foundation for her students. Field trips like taking first-year students to IHOP and advanced students to a local Bavarian restaurant to assist with the production of meals, helps students see first-hand what real-word skills are required. Additionally, Sussman’s takes her students to the local Wegman’s Grocery store where students see a massive food storage operation, receive personal tours of the cheese station, have multiple tastings, and learn proper rolling techniques from the sushi chefs. Finally, Sussman works with many local organizations to provide catered food or volunteers for a multitude of events from dinner parties to an annual Thanksgiving Day meal.