Lewiston Culinary Class Set to Sharpen Workforce Skills

Photo caption: Pastry Instructor Rebecca Levesque shows off dinner rolls before getting them ready for a meal at Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Restaurant, The Green Ladle.

A hands-on culinary training program can provide the recipe for adults looking for a successful transition to restaurant careers.

The Culinary Training with Kitchen Manager ServSafe Training is scheduled to begin on Jan. 17 at the Green Ladle in Lewiston. Chef Dan Caron of the Green Ladle said it is the second one offered to help restaurants and food service establishments in need of skilled workers. It will be free for eligible participants.

The program is being funded through federal job training funds as well as the Green Ladle’s “Community Serving Community” food truck. The Green Ladle is the culinary arts program for Lewiston Regional Technical Center.

During the previous training that ended on Nov. 17, representatives of seven local restaurants met with students to recruit them.

“It was really quite amazing,” Caron said.

He said of the 11 students in that session, seven had already been hired for jobs before the end of the training.

Students in the new session will learn about basic kitchen safety, knife skills and baking in the five-week class. The class will run Monday and Wednesday afternoons.

“It’s a win-win situation for the student,” Caron said. “This is a good way to get into the culinary field and to support our local restaurants and other food service establishments.”

In order to enroll, interested students must sign up to attend an informational session that is scheduled for December 16th. CASAS testing is also required. At the end of the training, students will receive a certificate of completion, will take the ServSafe manager exam, and will have the opportunity to meet with local employers.

The class is a partnership between the Green Ladle, Lewiston Adult Education, Eastern Maine Development Corporation/Community Concepts, Inc. with the support of the Lewiston-Auburn culinary community, including Bates College, DaVinci’s Italian Eatery, Fish Bones Grill, Gippers Sports Grill, and Campus Cuisine. Additional partners may join the program before the January start, Caron said.

To register for the informational session and to schedule testing, contact Lewiston Adult Education at 207-795-4141.

Adult Education Determination Leads to a Diploma

Struggling in high school because she was a teen mom with no childcare, Michelle B. dropped out her junior year.  She first came to RSU #54 Adult Education in 2005. Initially, Michelle pursued her GED.  Because she is not a strong test taker, however, she found the high-stakes high school equivalency exams an insurmountable obstacle.

In 2010, Michelle followed the advice of the Adult Ed director and opted to pursue an SAHS diploma.  Despite her struggles in high school, Michelle had made good progress and was only a few classes shy of graduating, so she began the long process of earning her missing credits.

An English and history class were first in 2010. The pressures of marriage and raising children forced her to put academics on hold for a long while, but Michelle eventually returned to class in 2018, earning another English credit in 2019, American Government in 2020, and, lastly, science in 2021.

Despite working full time, raising two daughters as a single mom, grappling with the unexpected death of her own mother, and dealing with the disruption of a global pandemic, Michelle found time for her education.  She proudly joined many other Adult Education graduates for our June 9 ceremony.

Michelle did it for herself, but—even more importantly—she did it for her daughters.  In an essay written for her most recent English class, she explained that she wanted to show her children that if they are willing to work hard, anything is possible.  She wrote:

“Even if their dreams change ten times, as their mother I’ll always tell them they can be anything they want. Always, forever, I believe in my kids.”

Congratulations, Michelle!  Your experience testifies to the importance of diligence and determination as we pursue our goals.

This article was provided by RSU 54 as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov

Belfast Teacher Named Alternative Educator of the Year

The Alternative Education Association (AEA) of Maine has announced that Lindsey Schortz of the Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE) has been named the 2021 Alternative Educator of the Year. Lindsey is the Lead Science and Math teacher in the program and has become integral to the success of the students while engaging them in their learning. The Maine Department of Education joins the AEA in recognizing the hard work and determination of Lindsey and all of alternative educators across Maine for everything they do to ensure that each and every student has the opportunity to learn.

“I love alternative education because it provides opportunities for students and teachers both,” said Lindsey Schortz. “For students who have not seen success in a traditional setting for whatever reason, it shows them that there is another way for them to learn.  For teachers and students, it is an opportunity to be creative, study topics in depth and perhaps most importantly form real relationships.  I feel fortunate to work at a school with such deep roots in the community and in a district that values alternative education and how it can transform a student’s educational experience.”

Colden Golann, Assistant Principal at Belfast High School, says “what separates Lindsey is her commitment to her students. She will stop at nothing to support kids and help them overcome the obstacles they are facing. Last year during school closures, Lindsey took it upon herself to visit any student who was not participating and often taught individualized lessons in driveways, porches or on breaks from student’s jobs.

Daisy Bradney, a student in the BCOPE program described Ms. Schortz as a, “kind, caring, and very passionate about what she does….she has always been my go to person whenever something exciting happens, she is always so thrilled for our achievements…no matter how big or small.

The AEA also recognized the other finalist for this award, Linda “Cookie” Dana of Bangor High School remarking that these great educators represent the level of excellence as determined by the National Alternative Education Standards.

The AEA will recognize both honorees and their achievements at their Annual Conference on May 28th.