Harlem High School teacher Barbara Howard recently earned recognition as Georgia's 2008 ProStart Teacher of the Year.
She was selected for the honor by the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia on behalf of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Howard said she was shocked when she found out she had won the award.
"They like to see what you do for your students. They like to see what you do for your ProStart program, what you do for your community, your school," Howard said.
ProStart is a restaurant foundation program that urges high school students to consider careers in the restaurant and food-services industry.
Erin Gray, the hospitality foundation's executive director, said Howard stood out for many reasons.
"She had a restaurant in her school," she said.
Gray said Howard worked with other county teachers to become certified culinary educators.
Gray also praised Ho-ward's efforts in preparing a four-student team to compete in the Georgia ProStart State Championships, a culinary arts competition held at Gwinnett Technical College in early March.
"Her students went out and found their own mentor. She had inspired her students to actually engage industry themselves," Gray said.
The team members were Durrell Jones, Brittany Miller, Tiffany Taylor and Allie Hyatt. Todd Schafer, the chef and owner of Bistro 491, served as the mentor for the team, which was one of 16 that took part in the contest.
The Harlem team prepared Caesar salad, pan-seared chicken breast in red wine sauce, sauted asparagus and a layered parfait.
"They didn't place, but I was very, very pleased with how well they did," Howard said. "The judges said they had the best menu and the best sauce."
The teams had to exhibit knife skills, bone a chicken and appear in full uniform for inspection.
Brittany said the class has taught her how to cater and how to act professionally. Tiffany said she learned how to meet new people and how to compete at the contest.
Durrell said he has wanted to be a chef "ever since 10th grade when they threw me in Ms. Howard's class." He said he wanted to learn to cook so he "won't have to spend a lot of money on meals."
Howard has been a ProStart teacher at Harlem since the school initiated the program in 2001.
She will travel to Chicago in May to accept her award at the Salute to Excellence Awards Gala during the National Restaurant Association show.
The event brings the country's most promising restaurant, culinary and food service management students together with top educators and industry leaders.
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