Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vegas Schools Bet on Technology

Las Vegas High Schools' Clark County School District: Leaders and innovators in culinary arts education.

Clark County School District (CCSD), located in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, is a leader in educational innovation. CCSD is answering a question that faces educators today: How do teachers and administrators reach the modern millennial learners in a multimedia driven world? Students today spend most of their time 'plugged in'. They communicate, interact, and learn differently than any other generation. CCSD used this theme as the guideline for redesigning and reinvigorating their high school culinary arts programs.

Las Vegas is home to a booming restaurant industry. The cheap all-you-can-eat buffets on the Vegas strip are being replaced by fine dining establishments that boast renowned chefs and unique cuisine. Just as the change is occurring to the Vegas facade, the educational landscape is undergoing a "makeover" as well. For Clark County, the top priority is designing curricula that will engage today's millennial learners and develop tomorrow's industry professionals.

Led by Nancy Hamilton, CCSD's forward-thinking Career & Technical Education (CTE) Director, CCSD has pioneered the integration of the latest technologies, trends, equipment and methodologies into their culinary arts classroom. With Hamilton's guidance and support, every Clark County culinary arts teacher worked together to create joint lesson plans that would be integrated at a district-wide level. These lessons were built using the same computer-based culinary arts resource.

The process was simple and ingenious. CCSD took the 28 units of study that directly correlate to Nevada’s competencies for the Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster and distributed them among 24 of their teachers to write a complete lesson plan for their assigned unit. In less than six months, the team had completed the entire process of developing unit plans, lessons, worksheets and activities. Then, they took the information from each teacher and fully integrated them into a culinary arts computer program in less than a week.

Now CCSD has a cohesive and unified culinary curriculum. Every teacher is on the same page and is teaching the same material. Furthermore, by fully utilizing a computer-based educational framework, teachers in CCSD schools now access all of their tools and materials from one convenient location. The software integration has fostered a media-rich curriculum that is ideal for administrators, teachers, and students:
  • For administrators, CCSD is presently realizing the benefits and measuring the results of a successful program.
  • For teachers, the transition is a dream come true, and it has never been easier to train culinary arts professionals from a high school classroom.
  • For students, the CTE classroom has never been more dynamic, enjoyable, and relevant to the needs of the food service industry.
Technology and education change as rapidly as the Las Vegas skyline. As the culture of the city, its students, and its industries evolve, it is clear that CCSD will continue to lead the charge.