Kent ISD — The Kent Career Technical Center’s culinary arts program and two of its teachers have received awards from the Grand Rapids chapter of the American Culinary Federation.
George Dennis was named Chef Educator of the Year, an honor given to an active culinary educator who helps students develop their careers and provides a strong foundation for their future success. Sarah Waller earned the title Pastry Chef of the Year, an award given to an individual with an accomplished reputation in the pastry field and who has contributed to the education of others.
In addition, the culinary arts program earned the Grimod de la Reyniere Award for its positive contributions to the community.
“Naturally, this award is an honor to receive (but) I would be remiss to think that this award reflects my work alone at Kent ISD,” said Dennis. “The educational team in the hospitality department really deserves the credit in bringing students from all districts together, supporting their learning and developing the skill of each student.”
Dennis has taught at Kent ISD for more than 20 years, and said it’s rewarding to step into restaurants or hotels in the area and see current or former students working in the industry. He keeps in touch with many after they graduate and enjoys watching them put the skills he taught them to good use.
The fact that the Grand Rapids ACF also recognized the culinary arts program with an award is a reflection of that personal investment, he said.
“(Receiving the Grimod de la Reyniere Award) is a symbol of the dedication to educational excellence of all our teachers and support staff,” he said. “By using the team approach within the department, we often work together, team teaching, pulling from one another’s strongest skill sets and pushing students and ourselves to pursue excellence every day.”