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Even the most seasoned educator can be challenged in the classroom. Finding and creating engaging projects and learning targets is difficult, even under normal circumstances. HHS Career and Technical Education Department has cultivated many meaningful business partnerships which bring professional mentors into the classrooms to demonstrate hands-on techniques and skills. Amid COVID-19 educators have gone above and beyond to help keep learners actively engaged with content, as well as meeting their social and emotional needs. Mrs. Rombough, HHS Culinary Instructor, teamed up with the HHS Culinary Program’s mentor Executive Chef Nicholas Skajewski of Avera McKennan to create a video for learners to learn how to make Beef Pho, traditional Vietnamese comfort food. The video illustrates many tips and tricks, from how to select the proper cut of beef to correct knife cutting techniques. 

Video tutorials and meetings have made hands-on career and technical education courses much more palatable for learners, especially when tutorials come from professionals like Chef Nic. HHS learner, Aston Feller, “wanted to do more cooking,” with Mrs. Rombough after taking meal planning as a freshman. However, connecting to content was a struggle when the switch to online learning was implemented. Within minutes of Mrs. Rombough posting Chef Nic’s video, Aston was watching and had great things to say. Feller said the video, “made me want to cook,” even while at home during online learning. He notes professionals, such as Chef Nic, “offer a lot of opportunities for us and new outlooks on things. He also showed us a lot of behind the scenes stuff that you’d never get to see otherwise”. The video was a hit and learners were actively engaging in online reflections and sending thank-you emails to Chef Nic within the hour. 

Others have also stepped up to share their expertise: Mrs. Kern had SDSU Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Interior Design Angela McKillip speak virtually to her interior design class and Ms. Meland in partnership with Chef Dean Marshall of the Big Orange Food Truck created videos for her pre-culinary learners at South Middle School.

Many Career and Technical Education careers have been highlighted in the news as essential roles: nurses, plumbers, bankers, transportation and sanitation works, construction, bakers and chefs, meat production, and more. It is apparent Harrisburg’s partnerships with business and community mentors are important to our learners futures. With excellent partnerships, Chef Nic and others are keeping learners engaged in a life-long, career driven curriculum that will help our community for years to come. 

If you would like to learn how to make Beef Pho, follow along with Chef Nicholas Skajewski: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FnK0hFPHZ4&feature=youtu.be . Stay tuned, more videos from Chef Nic may become a regular part of the culinary program.