While school was out this summer, ProStart educators honed their culinary skills at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's (NRAEF) 2014 Summer Institutes, a series of weeklong professional development workshops held at the country's leading culinary schools. 

In addition to supporting the ProStart program and the Summer Institutes, the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation invested $50,000 to provide Summer Institute scholarships to 28 ProStart Educators.

"The NRAEF's Summer Institutes give ProStart educators the opportunity to learn the latest culinary trends and techniques shaping the industry today, from global cuisine to sustainability," says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. 

"We are grateful to the Darden Foundation for investing in professional development for the educators who prepare ProStart students to enter the workforce. This level of training and expertise directly benefits our ProStart students, teaching them the skills they need to achieve long term, rewarding careers in the restaurant industry."

This year, The NRAEF offered 14 Summer Institutes in 13 cities. Four different levels of Summer Institutes allowed educators with beginning to advanced culinary expertise to better their own skills and help instruct ProStart students in the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. Educators earned restaurant and foodservice certifications, learned from nationally recognized chefs, networked with peers, toured restaurant and foodservice facilities, and received classroom materials.

"Darden is committed to creating opportunity in the communities we serve, and we're honored to contribute to the ongoing development of the ProStart educators," says Stephanie Ghertner, director of the Darden Foundation. "We are incredibly inspired by the 28 recipients of the Summer Institute scholarships, who give a great amount of their time and energy to enable the success of our future culinary professionals."

The following ProStart educators received 2014 Summer Institutes scholarships from Darden:

  • Delrose Adkinson, Hampton City High School, Virginia
  • Cheryl Allen, Somersworth Career & Technical Center, Rochester, New Hampshire
  • Benjie Apodaca, Taos Municipal Schools, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
  • LaRae Arment, Alburenett Community School District, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Kelly Biggs, Southwestern Randolph High School, Asheboro, North Carolina
  • Claudia Couch, Mead School District, Colbert, Washington
  • Jamie Diehl, Ennis School District #52, Ennis, Montana
  • Angelina Drago, Hammond High Magnet School, Hammond, Louisiana
  • Evelyn Ford, Lexington City Schools, Asheboro, North Carolina
  • Stephanie Fox, Fond du Lac School District, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
  • Wanda Grimes, Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, Bamberg, South Carolina
  • Debra Hadley, West Caldwell High School, Lenoir, North Carolina
  • Sandra Hawk, Buckingham County Public Schools, Buckingham, Virginia
  • Jean Heubach, Fairmont High School, Lumberton, North Carolina
  • Christy Johnson, Clearwater R-1 High School, Piedmont, Missouri
  • John Keller, Kent County High School, Chestertown, Maryland
  • Stephanie Kunkel, Jackson Local Schools, Canton, Ohio
  • Tracey Lee, Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, Stow, Ohio
  • Ann Leider, Elgin High School, Palatine, Massacusetts
  • Linda Marshall, Iredell Statesville Schools, Troutman, North Carolina
  • Patara McDaniel, South Panola High School, Batesville, Mississippi
  • Carol Meese, Upshur County Schools, Buckhannon, West Virginia
  • Teresa Mullen, Pocahontas County High School, Dunmore, West Virginia
  • Donna Rudicil, Caldwell County Schools, Lenoir, North Carolina
  • Tamara Stelmach, Monroe Career and Technical Institute, Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Delaine Stendahl, Whitehall School District, Whitehall, Wisconsin
  • William Twaler, Wando High School, Hollywood, South Carolina
  • Adam Williams, Clinton High School Career Complex, Pearl, Mississippi

ProStart is taught in more than 1,700 schools to nearly 100,000 students across 48 states, Guam and on Department of Defense military bases. For more information on the ProStart program, visit NRAEF.org/ProStart.

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