Culinary Arts Honored with Excellence in Action Award

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Central Campus teachers and students meet with Iowa’s U.S. Senator Joni Ernst while attending the Advance CTE annual spring meeting in Washington, DC.

The culinary arts program at Central Campus is now officially among the very best programs of its kind in the nation. Advance CTE, a national organization representing the interests of career and technical education, presented the culinary arts program at Central Campus with their prestigious Excellence in Action award today during their annual spring meeting in Washington, DC. While in the nation’s capital, Chef John Andres and his students also had a chance to meet with both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.

Below is the press release from Advance CTE announcing the award:

Today, Des Moines Independent Public School’s Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Academy in Des Moines, Iowa, was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Action award, which recognizes innovative and impactful Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study across the nation. Des Moines Independent Public School was one of eleven programs selected as an “Excellence in Action” award winner, based on its uniquely innovative and effective approach to offering rigorous coursework, authentic and meaningful work-based learning experiences, and supported transitions from secondary to postsecondary education and on to successful careers.

Central Campus culinary arts students and teachers meet with U.S. Senator Chuck before accepting their Excellence in Action award.

Central Campus culinary arts students and teachers meet with U.S. Senator Chuck before accepting their Excellence in Action award.

Des Moines Independent Public School received the award in the Hospitality & Tourism Career Cluster from Advance CTE as a result of their dedication to providing demanding academic and technical coursework, commitment to offering real-world learning experiences including preparing weekly luncheons, and supported pathways to secondary education and career through dual enrollment and certifications. This outstanding program of study prepares students with the skills they need for success. Des Moines Independent Public School representatives accepted the honor at an award luncheon and reception as part of the Advance CTE Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.

“Secondary CTE programs play a pivotal role in preparing students to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce,” Kotamraju, Iowa’s State Director for CTE, said. “The Des Moines Central Campus, with its strong connection to academics, alignment with industry standards, and meaningful, work-based experiences, is the model one thinks of when describing high-quality career and technical education. It is one of the premier models we have in mind as Iowa begins implementation of the recently passed bill to update and restructure secondary career and technical education in the state.”

“On behalf of Iowa’s restaurant industry, we’re so proud of Des Moines Central Campus High School’s Culinary Arts department for receiving the Excellence in Action award. Chef John Andres and his ProStart students exemplify excellence day in and day out and truly live up to what it means to be a Premier ProStart program—one of the largest industry-supported career and technical education programs in the nation,” said May Schaben, Executive Director of the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

“Winning this prestigious award is humbling and validates the extraordinary work of Chef John Andres, our outstanding students and the support of our District and local businesses,” said Aiddy Phomvisay, Central Campus Assistant Director.

Phomvisay regularly hears from industry leaders and culinary institutes about the advantages Central Campus students have over other candidates because of their range of knowledge, proven technical skills and mastery of soft skills.

“The real-world experience is second to none,” added Phomvisay. “We look at how we can make a difference for students and help them on the path to succeed in middle- and high-skill jobs.”

“Students who persist in the program for all three years pursue further education in the field or enter the industry after graduation because of the rigorous and relevant real world experiences learn,” said Chef John Andres, head of the Central Campus Program.

“We are so proud to recognize these amazing programs and the leaders who helped achieve such accomplishments,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director, Advance CTE. “These Excellence in Action award winners have high expectations that result in their students truly being prepared for success in college, careers and life. By shining a national spotlight on these programs, we hope to challenge others to use them as a model for what high-quality CTE looks like and can achieve. “

Printable profiles of each winner, detailing their unique strengths and justification for their selection are available on Advance CTE’s website. For further updates from the Advance CTE Spring Meeting, including a recap of the award ceremony, visit the CTE: Learning that Works Blog.