Shreja Patel, a junior at La Plata High School, is preparing for her future while preparing the ingredients for a class project. Patel was recently named the 2022-2023 ProStart Student of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) Education Foundation. She will be recognized by the foundation during its awards gala Sunday, March 26. Lorna Browne, Ph.D., culinary science and food and nutrition technology teacher at Howard High School, was named the 2022-2023 ProStart Teacher of the Year recipient.
Patel is a member of Mary Winkler’s ProStart Food and Beverage Management class at La Plata where students learn the ins and outs of the restaurant and hospitality business. The skills range from food preparation and sanitation to marketing, accounting and customer service. Patel decided to join the career and technical education (CTE) path to get a head start on her career goals. She would like to one day open a restaurant after delving more into cooking and baking when the stay home orders were announced to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Winkler said Patel is the kind of student to drop by the classroom to say hi and wind up helping clean up or aid in another task. “Her positive attitude is infectious. When other students are frustrated or disengaged, Shreja exudes a work ethic that infiltrates the rest of the group,” Winkler said.
Students typically start ProStart classes in their junior year taking them along with traditional classes. Experience gained in ProStart can help students sidestep entry-level positions in the restaurant industry allowing them a chance at earning higher wages. A few students also nab apprenticeships.
The class at La Plata has started a catering business of sorts preparing food and desserts for school system and community events. Money collected from the service goes toward the purchase of equipment and supplies for the class. Having the ProStart Student of the Year in class is another feather in La Plata’s cap. Tajala Battle-Lockhart, director of programs and education with RAM, and Olivia Abeedeen, education and apprenticeship coordinator for RAM, recently visited La Plata to present Patel with her award and cupcakes for the class.
“To be able to identify an educator and scholar that has been noticed by not only their peers in the building, but their community, is a privilege,” Aberdeen said. “We’re all still recovering from Covid, so any opportunity we get to show that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, we take it,” she added.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).