On Monday, October 8th, Joan Stekl, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Cedar Rapids Washington High School, was awarded the 2018 ProStart Educator of Excellence Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Stekl was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.
ProStart is a career and technical education program which offers students four semesters of restaurant management and culinary arts education. Students must complete a 400-hour internship, exhibit competency in more than 60 culinary techniques, and take two standard exams to earn their ProStart Certificate. With that certificate, they can receive up to 15 hours credit at many culinary schools across the state.
Stekl helped introduce the ProStart program to the Cedar Rapids school district. She uses traditional classroom teaching methods but has also secured other unique hands-on culinary experiences for her students with major foodservice distributors and award-winning chefs. Her students have collaborated with a Cedar Rapids chef to prepare the hors-d'oeuvres at fundraising events, attended professional development seminars and competed in state competitions.
A video showcasing Stekl can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.