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Albuquerque Educator Receives Educator Excellence Award
Sandia High educator was recognized during National ProStart Educator Excellence Awards
The Hospitality Industry Education Foundation (HIEF) of the New Mexico Restaurant Association is pleased to announce that Unna Valdez of Sandia High is the New Mexico 2012 ProStart Educator Excellence Award recipient. Valdez joined 34 other top educators in Chicago, Ill. for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) ProStart Educator Excellence Awards on May 7, 2012.
“ProStart unites the industry and the classroom to create a unique and unparalleled experience for students. Our dedicated ProStart educators are working diligently to create that vital bridge for their students,” said Victoria Martinez, Executive Director, HIEF. “Unna embodies all that make ProStart educators successful – inspiration, leadership, collaboration – and is very deserving of this honor.”
Unna Valdez is a native of Albuquerque and has been teaching Culinary Arts and ProStart at Sandia High for five years. She has over twenty years experience in the food service industry as well. She has also traveled to West Africa with the University of New Mexico’s MIRT research team to conduct biomedical research and has traveled several times to Nigeria to volunteer at an AIDS clinic and at an elementary school. Like Ms. Valdez, many of her students have been recognized for their skills and contribution to the industry, taking first place in the culinary competition at this year’s NM ProStart Invitational. Ms. Valdez has been the recipient of several grants, including the USDA / FDA Food Safety and the National Endowment of Humanities-Recipe for America.
The NRAEF’s ProStart Educator Excellence Awards recognize an exceptional educator from every state who utilizes the ProStart program in his/her classroom. Awardees were flown into Chicago and hosted by the NRAEF from May 5-7, 2012 to participate in a weekend of celebration, networking and learning. “ProStart unites the industry and the classroom to create a unique and unparalleled experience for students. Our dedicated ProStart educators are working diligently to create that vital bridge for their students,” said Lynette McKee, executive director of the NRAEF.
ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime. By bringing industry and the classroom together, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. It all happens through a curriculum that teaches all facets of the restaurant and foodservice industry, inspires students to succeed and sets a high standard of excellence for students and the industry. With national and local support from industry members, educators, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and state restaurant associations, ProStart reaches 90,000 students nationwide. For more information on the ProStart program, please visit www.prostart.restaurant.org.
The Hospitality Industry Education Foundation (HIEF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the educational mission of the New Mexico Restaurant Association. In addition to administering the ProStart Program, HIEF awards scholarships to students pursuing a degree in the hospitality industry. To learn more about HIEF programs call 1-800-432-0740.
The New Mexico Restaurant Association’s mission is to empower the food and beverage industry by promoting and protecting common values and interests. It has more than 1,000 members in 111 cities all over New Mexico, who join together for meetings, seminars and the hospitality industry awards to honor the industry’s top achievers. It has actively represented and promoted the food service industry in New Mexico since 1946.