A Greene County teacher was awarded the culinary instructor of the year by the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFE).
During a June 20 leadership conference at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, N.C., Dan Wagner, director of the culinary arts program at Greene County Career and Technology Center, was presented with the Sysco Corporation Secondary Educator of the Year Award.
“I was honored to get the award,” Wagner said.
A panel of judges who looked at several applications, made the determination that Wagner would be one of three instructors to receive an award, according to a news release from CAFE.
One reason the award was presented to Wagner, the release said, is the fact he’s secured many learning and cooking opportunities for the students outside of Greene County. In his 29 years of teaching, he’s taken several groups of students to work in kitchens in Washington, D.C., during presidential inaugural festivities.
Most recently, the students got to work in Trump International Hotel in D.C. during President Donald Trump’s inauguration week, January 2017, just months after the hotel opened. The students worked with Oliver Beckert, executive chef of the hotel.
“These things don’t happen without people being willing to work with you,” Wagner said. “It’s those people within the industry, like Chef Beckert, that have opened doors to make that happen. And the students have to be the ones to deliver when we do those internships.”
Wagner thanked everyone who’s been “interactive” with the culinary program at the CTC, including its director Mark Krupa, who Wagner said, let him teach outside the box.
“I got to develop this program into what I wanted it to be, and there’s still a bucket list of things I want to do with it,” Wagner said. “You have to have fun in education. You have to be creative, and you have to do things that enrich the kids and let them see what’s outside of Green County.”
Krupa is one of the people who wrote a letter of recommendation to CAFE in support of Wagner winning the award. In his letter he wrote not only do Wagner’s students like and respect him, but they all have an “enthusiasm and dedication” to the work they do in the program.
“I am convinced this pride, enthusiasm and dedication is learned from Dan,” Krupa wrote in the letter. “He is constantly looking for new ways to improve his program and incorporate new ideas and concepts designed to enhance his students’ skills and ultimately their value in today’s job market or those who go on to higher education.”
This year marks 30 years of teaching the culinary program in Greene County, Wagner said.
“I love the kids,” he said. “They appreciate things. You hear the words ‘thank you’ from them a lot.”