Friday, March 9, 2012

That's Ms. Chef Kickass to you, thank you very much

I am too stupid to figure out Facebook, it seems. I just now came across this message from a former student that he left in November.  He was part of the group that had two classmates die in a three week period, as well as one of the female students having had her brother die two weeks prior to that mess.  I have always worried that so much...shitty stuff in such a short time frame would have tainted their learning experience, but finding this note today answered that question, I guess:

 Happy Day to You.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say I'm grateful for being your student.

I think this comes directly from your teaching style: both personal & direct. I think you communicate very clearly about what you need & expect, but combine that with personal relationship. Yes, losing Brian, John & Joe all at once created the need for a more personal relationship. Still, a lot of instructors create a specific distance between themselves & their students. You have your boundaries, of course, but you don't close yourself to your students. I think that resonates with people because they can see that you are putting yourself out there, stretching outside of a safe zone, and therefore students are willing to stretch outside of a safe zone to perform for you.

I often think of critiques you offered, something about multi-masking or tasking or something? Anyways, I never quite got it

I also stepped into a mess with you at one point. By questioning your authority, I got wacked back and gained a clear example of how you command your kitchen by intuition & traditional structure.

Why I bring all this up is that I am finding that I thrive in a work environment that you have created in your kitchen. I had a great time working under your direction.

I was inspired to write this because of articles on the radio about a Smithsonian Story Project focusing on teachers and their students appreciation.

You matter to me and a lot of other cooks who have walked through your kitchen. Know that you're doing it right.

And that, right there folks, is why I love my job.


Cali said...

I went to a small, private culinary academy. We were divided into classes of 10. Dropouts were VERY rare. Prior to my year they only had two classes of ten, but my year there were three. Our classes were further sub-divided into two groups and rotated service and line positions. (The next year they dropped back to two classes, but had 15 students in each class, mostly because of the popularity of the catering program. They were still divided into groups of five, but added in a catering rotation.)

I was in the middle class, but only barely. I was a replacement for someone who decided she wasn't up to the physicality of the work after just two days. Luckily, I had been educating myself for about a decade already by that time and at the end of the first week our chef instructor declared me "caught up." The school thought they could squeeze in a third class between the usual two classes because after we were there for our initial six weeks of "freshman" knife skills, technique and equipment training the first class took six weeks of internships. In theory, it worked great, but in reality my class suffered by not having our instructor to ourselves.

Despite all of that, our class was as close as a class could ever be. We truly loved each other. Well, except for the one woman who was that sort of "Teacher, you forgot to give us our test" person. But we were united in our contempt for her!

All of that was meant to lead up to this: My chef-instructor was, and is STILL (after almost 15 years!) one of the most beloved people in my world. I don't get to see him much since the school closed, but I still love him dearly, and I always will. He believed in me at a time when I didn't believe in myself much, and I really needed that.

BTW, my class ended up being only eight graduates, and I graduated number one in my class. I got the highest score in the history of the school on my written final, and came in second on my practical. Culinary school was, without a doubt, the best thing I ever did. I'm sure many of your students feel the same way I do.

Kez said...

Wow :) I think it's always nice to know your work is appreciated!

SkylersDad said...

That is really cool WM!

Anonymous said...

It's never too late to feel appreciated.

By the way, I love the new picture. I thought of you the minute I saw the original.

Chris said...

That's the kind of feedback that makes teaching worth all the effort. And not many teachers get it. Good job, WM.

Anonymous said...

That got me teary eyed.


Fat Diva In Motion said...

what a wonderful moment to be reminded of how much a soul impacts others. well done ,dearheart