At 2019 National ProStart Invitational Awards Gala, Educators of Excellence recognized

ProStart Educators of Excellence Awards recognize exceptional work of ProStart teachers in classrooms

ProStart is a comprehensive classroom-to-work program run by the National Restaurant Educational Foundation (NRAEF). As the 2019 National ProStart Invitational, in Washington, D.C., winds down, the restaurant industry is turning its attention on the educators who make advances possible for those who want to participate in a restaurant career. The ProStart Educators of Excellence Awards recognize the exceptional work of ProStart teachers in their classrooms.

The NRAEF, state educators, sponsors, mentors and volunteers move the ProStart agenda forward to bring these unique opportunities to the industry’s future leaders. As part of the competition, nearly 400 students descended on D.C. to participate and watch the 2019 National ProStart Invitational. And state teams in culinary and management disciplines competed for awards and scholarship money to further their foodservice careers. Young minds, mind-blowing skills and very tech savvy—this is the next generation of restaurant leaders coming to a town near you.

Educators of Excellence

In D.C., the NRAEF’s 2019 ProStart Educators of Excellence Awards were held in conjunction with the National ProStart Invitational at the Omni Shoreham Hotel Friday, May 10. Fittingly, the national awards, presented at the National ProStart Invitational Award Ceremony & Gala, are sponsored by a family-dining chain, Golden Corral. “Tommy Show” Host Tommy McFly, a D.C. personality, NBC contributor and former 94.7 FM radio host, was the M.C. for the Awards Gala. Ted Allen, host of “Chopped,” made a special appearance to help recognize the winners.

Tommy McFly, D.C. personality, NBC4 contributor and "Tommy Show" host. Photo by Eatery Pulse Media.
Tommy McFly, D.C. personality, NBC4 contributor and “Tommy Show” host, M.C.’s the 2019 ProStart Awards Ceremony. Photo by Eatery Pulse Media.

James H. Maynard Award Winner

As an exemplary educator, Mary Beth Brace of Bergen County Academies received the James H. Maynard Teacher of the Year Award and will receive a $10,000 gift and a plaque. At the ProStart Award Gala, teachers’ excitement and pride was so visible as they received the national category awards. As Brace approached the stage, a colleague was heard shouting “I told you could do it. I told you would win.” Below are the names of the three recognized category winners, each receiving a $3,500 prize and plaque.


National category winners, ProStart Educators of Excellence Awards

At such an energetic and impressionable event at the Omni Shoreham, the excitement was quite apparent. And to help present the awards, Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association and NRAEF chief executive, Rob Gifford, NRAEF executive vice president, Kristin Bitter, vice president, Coca-Cola, Industry Affairs, and Lance Trenary, Golden Corral chief executive were on hand.

2019 National ProStart Invitational at Omni Shoreham and Awards Ceremony. Photo by Eatery Pulse Media.
2019 National ProStart Invitational at Omni Shoreham and Awards Ceremony. Photo by Eatery Pulse Media.

Educators of Excellence, Classroom Expertise Winner

Ashley Kurth of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

Educators of Excellence, Best Practices and Knowledge Sharing Winner

Brian Greene of Bi-County Culinary Arts in Indiana

Educators of Excellence, Industry Connections Winner

Jody Fowler of Liberty North High School in Missouri


State 2019 Educators of Excellence Awardees

Finally, the State Educators of Excellence Awardees who follow received their plaque Friday during the day:

  • Alabama: Barbara Bonner, Fort Payne High School
  • Alaska: Paulette Ditzler, Chugiak High School
  • Arizona: Patti Pastor, Flagstaff High School
  • Arkansas: Jennifer Park, Conway High School
  • California: Brian Murphy, San Diego High School
  • Colorado: Jessica DiLullo and Ellen Heumann, Adams City High School
  • Connecticut: Nathanial Bradshaw, Wilbur Cross High School
  • Delaware: Scott Cave, Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School
  • Florida: Ashley Kurth, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
  • Georgia: Amanda Williams, Maxwell High School of Technology
  • Illinois: Samantha Kramer, Benito Juarez Community Academy
  • Indiana: Brian Greene, Bi-County Culinary Arts
  • Iowa: Jane Hoegh, Hampton-Dumont High School
  • Kansas: Cara Poole, Maize High School
  • Louisiana: Elena Hodges, Chalmette High School
  • Maryland: Andre Williams, Bladensburg High School
  • Massachusetts: Tonia Larkins, Madison Park Vocational High School
  • Michigan: Kharen Warfield Shelton, Kalamazoo RESA Culinary Arts –EFE
  • Minnesota: Matthew Deutsch, Burnsville High School
  • Missouri: Jody Fowler, Liberty North High School
  • Montana: Haley Barker, Laurel High School
  • Nebraska: Maybell Galusha, The Career Academy
  • New Hampshire: Michael Levin, Milford High School & Applied Tech. Center
  • N.J.: Mary Beth Brace, Bergen County Academies
  • New Mexico: Anthony Izaak Sapien, Gadsen High School
  • N.Y.: Julie Harrington, Finger Lakes Technical and Career Center
  • North Carolina: Robyn Stafford, Croatan High School
  • Ohio: Seth Weibel, Pioneer Career & Technology Center
  • Oregon: Laura Hofer, South Salem High School
  • Pennsylvania: Christie Parks, Central Westmoreland Career & Tech. Center
  • Rhode Island: William Walker, East Providence Career & Technical Center
  • South Carolina: Andrea C. Baumberger, Ninety Six High School
  • South Dakota: LaKisha Jordan, T.F. Riggs High School
  • Texas: Kandice Norrid, Tascosa High School
  • Utah: Shelly Mendenhall, Desert Hills High School
  • Vermont: Jaime-Lyn Schmidt, Southwest Vermont Career Development Center
  • Virginia: Laura Norris/Pulaski County High School
  • West Virginia: Teresa Mullen, Pocahontas County High School
  • Wisconsin: Ryan Demers, Pewaukee High School

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