The following is from one of our excellent teachers at Hugs Prep, Chef Ben Looney.
So here we are, coming to the close of semester 2 of Hugs Prep. What a better time than now to fill everyone in on what we have been doing and where we are headed! We started our first semester in September 2016 and are currently 6 weeks into our 9-week second semester. All of us staff can say that we have learned as much as the students throughout this process. The first semester was very much a learning experience and more or less a long evaluation of the students. Coming into semester 2 we came up with a more comprehensive interviewing process for new students, having them come into cook/prep at the café for a hands-on evaluation. This way we could see exactly where the students were coming from and where their skill levels were at.
We have double the amount of students in this semester and have a more in-depth class structure. We have structured classes to mirror the environment that the students will experience in the workplace. Monday nights focus on front-of-house skills (hosting, serving, cashier, etc.) and Tuesday night focus on back-of-house (kitchen prep, baking, dishwashing, etc.). Our goal is to not treat the students like they have special needs but treat them and prepare them just like we would anyone wanting to enter the foodservice world. That being said, one of the challenges has been what to do with students that want to participate but might be lower functioning than some of the other students? This is a tough challenge for all of us at Hugs Prep, trying to teach a class of so many diverse students.
While not wanting to cater to one group in the class who may be at a different level while the other falls behind, our special needs instructor, Sarah Yonts, has come up with a great solution. Starting in semester 3 we will be offering a 3rd class that will be for individuals that need to solely work on their social skills. Sarah does this already for Allen ISD and is brilliant at it! This class will not necessarily have anything to do with foodservice, but just life skills in general.
Our goal is to not treat the students like they have special needs but treat them and prepare them just like we would anyone wanting to enter the foodservice world.
This semester we have been blessed to have a guest instructor, Chef Pia Marino, she is a pastry chef and culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Dallas. Her pastry skills have been put to great use as a majority of our students this semester has an interest in baking. Chef Pia taught two classes, cake baking, and cake decorating. In addition to sharing her expertise, she is also speaking with fellow bakeries about possible employment for some of our students.
We are all so excited about Hugs Prep and cannot wait to see how it continues to grow from here!