From Student To Instructor: Julie Knighten Spotlight
As a high school teacher in the culinary arts, Julie Knighten saw a great opportunity to expand and sharpen her education with Escoffier Online’s program. What she wasn’t expecting was to also see the online culinary school as a great tool to use in her classroom. With no expectations for students wanting an actual culinary career, Julie set out to just provide her pupils with a fun, different way of learning the pastry arts. What she didn’t expect to do was inspire many of them to pursue careers and higher education in various positions of the hospitality industry, from back of the house chef to front of the house management. As an Escoffier Online student herself and now a high school teacher who used the baking & pastry arts program in her classroom, Julie is a great example of how the program can work for different people pursuing it for different reasons.
Julie took a moment out of her busy end to the school year to talk with us about why she wanted to use the program in her Holdenville High School classroom, why she would recommend it to other high school teachers and the assessment that surprised her students the most.
Escoffier Online: Why did you want to use the Escoffier Online program in your classroom?
Julie Knighten: I was an Escoffier student first and I realized what an opportunity the program is for high school students.
EO: How did you first hear about the school?
JK: The 2014 state FCCLA convention in Oklahoma City. I looked on the website and saw the online program, I called and enrolled.
EO: What were your top 3 favorite parts of the Escoffier program?
JK: The chef webinars, the curriculum and the assessments.
EO: How did you feel it helped your students learn the culinary arts?
JK: The program is a starting, a beginning, a true introduction to the rigors and rewards of the industry. I have told my students that the door has been opened, they just need to walk through!
EO: What was your favorite assessment to do with the students?
JK: Peach Melba is my favorite dessert so that is my favorite assessment. Students tasting the flavors of vanilla ice cream, peaches and raspberry coulis was a treat for me. First they were skeptical, then they tasted, then they wanted more! I think that is the definition of Auguste Escoffier— developing flavor profiles that customers craved.
EO: Why would you recommend this to other teachers?
JK: I would recommend teachers experiencing the program as a student first; then as an instructor. I have taught culinary classes for several years but none had the student success that this semester with Escoffier Online Culinary Academy did.
EO: How do you think this will help your students with cooking & baking in the future?
JK: My admin and I knew before we began the school year that most of the class would not seek careers in the industry. We hoped but we knew that was not realistic. I had a few students that knew from day one that they would pursue higher education in this field. Some of the students were introduced to the field and will seek further education or career opportunity in hospitality. Some found their calling in front of the house management areas but realized to be successful they must be grounded in back of the house skills also. Some students are leaving for opportunity in other career areas but with the skills to cook for themselves and their families.
EO: Do you think other high school students could benefit from the Escoffier Online program?
JK: Other high school students could experience the same success as my students with expected outcomes—success in future career opportunities or higher education.
EO: What did you like most about the online curriculum?
JK: I had reservations about the online delivery from the student standpoint but after an initial adjustment, I loved it! [It was] accessible, available and user friendly. Technical support is always available and ready to advise or offer solutions.
EO: What has been the most beneficial aspect of partnering with Escoffier Online in your classroom?
JK: Escoffier Online’s personnel are located in Chicago and my classroom is in Holdenville, OK. Digital access and webinars made face-to-face interaction possible. Chef Susie is the greatest! [She’s] so patient and her guidance and knowledge were tremendous every step of the way. Escoffier Online truly is our partner—our partner with student success in the classroom!