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SD Department of Education May 2015  



Jordan combines passions for teaching and cooking

Six years ago, LaKisha Jordan was finishing her undergraduate education at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas, when she was offered a job teaching family and consumer sciences in the McIntosh and Lemmon school districts.

Having grown up as a self-described “Army Brat,” Jordan attended elementary school in Hawaii, high school in Virginia and says she considers herself “all East Coast” at heart. But she says she accepted the job offer in rural South Dakota and hasn’t looked back since: “I like the small town and knowing my kids pretty well. I have small classes, so I really get to know their personalities.”

Bringing ProStart to McIntosh and Lemmon

When Jordan arrived, she saw potential for a career and technical education program called ProStart. ProStart, a program of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, combines hands-on learning with mentored work experience and provides education in culinary skills, safety, inventory, cost controls, customer service, business math and other business management skills.

To bring ProStart to McIntosh and Lemmon, Jordan obtained a Perkins Reserve grant from the South Dakota Department of Education to commercialize the schools’ kitchens with convection ovens, stainless steel prep tables, restaurant-grade equipment, supplies and more.

Heading to National ProStart Invitational

In 2014, Jordan earned an Educator Excellence Award from ProStart. This year, some of her students earned a trip to the National ProStart Invitational in Anaheim, Calif. McIntosh students represented South Dakota in the culinary competition. The culinary competition requires students to cook a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners, no electricity and no running water. One of the McIntosh team’s featured dishes was a spaetzle made from scratch and mixed with butterkäse and sausage for a sort of German macaroni and cheese.

Brookings students also attended the national competition and participated in the management category, which requires teams to develop and pitch a restaurant concept, including layout, menu and pricing details.

Varsity Muse Bistro and Bakeshop

Access to a restaurant setting is limited in McIntosh and Lemmon, so Jordan and her students improvise, running a restaurant of their own, the Varsity Muse Bistro, in the McIntosh City Hall one night a year. This year’s menu featured chicken cordon bleu and a salad that has become a community favorite: the Varsity Muse (wild field greens, candied walnuts, julienne pears and homemade raspberry balsamic vinaigrette). On Valentine’s Day, students ran the Varsity Muse Bakeshop at McIntosh High School, a fundraiser featuring specialty cakes, candies, mini cheesecakes and a coffee bar.

Jordan recently earned her Master of Science in Merchandising and wants to pursue American Culinary Federation certification. So while it’s hard to predict exactly what McIntosh and Lemmon ProStart students will be cooking next year, no doubt it will be creative with Jordan in charge.

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