By Meg Dickens
The Johnson County High School Culinary Arts Department continues to grow and improve as time moves forward. Renowned chef and television personality Rachel Ray agrees, leading to JCHS becoming one of eight schools in the country to receive a Rachel Ray Foundation Grant. According to JCHS CTE Director Herbie Adams, a $70,000 grant provides opportunities for local students that would not be possible otherwise.
Johnson County’s Culinary Arts Program speaks for itself with multiple competition wins in the past few years. Part of the grant criteria is based on program impact, and Johnson County will receive funds on the higher end of the grant range. The Rachel Ray Foundation Grant ranges from $15,000 to $90,000.
“I am thrilled to see the incredible stories of these schools, these students and these teachers,” said Ray. “They’re already doing amazing work every day – and they’re all deserving of the opportunity to do even more. I can’t wait to see what we’re able to cook up with these students.”
The Johnson County Culinary Program will use the grant money to improve and expand. Other than updating the kitchen and classroom, the program plans to capitalize on a previous idea to provide for the community.
“This is such an amazing opportunity, and I am very proud and honored that we received this grant,” said Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox. “We are very excited about the opportunities this grant will provide for the culinary arts program.”
The school’s success has had a lot to do with Culinary Arts Program Teacher Craig Cox, who upon receiving the grant told the Tomahawk about a project he hoped to start back in January, namely a food truck idea, he had hoped to see become a reality. The project is designed to give students real-life experience in high-quality food service.
Incidentally, according to Simcox, Craig Cox is currently on leave without pay.
JCHS uses the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program to unite the kitchen and classroom into one cohesive unit that helps prepare students for a future in the culinary arts. Students can try out the career before committing.