Monday, June 23, 2008

Hotel guests will work so they can teach others

The Riverside Marriott has some extra help the week of June 23-27, as teachers job-shadow the hotel staff as part of a workshop on teaching hospitality and tourism to students enrolled in Home Economics Careers and Technology courses at high schools and Regional Occupation programs.

(RIVERSIDE, California) – Home Economics Careers and Technology teachers from throughout California will convene at the Riverside Marriott Hotel for a week June 23-27, but this is no vacation for them – they’ll all be put to work.

These teachers will spend part of their week working as reservation clerks, receptionists, food and beverage servers, and as part of the housekeeping, catering, room service, concierge, and security and maintenance staff. Then they will return to their own high schools and Regional Occupation Programs, better equipped to prepare their students for careers in tourism and hospitality.

“California’s reputation for breathtaking landscapes and friendly people have put the state on the map as the number one travel destination in the United States,” said Janice DeBenedetti, consultant for the California Department of Education’s Home Economics Careers & Technology program. “This means there is hardly a better place for young people to begin a career in the hospitality, tourism and recreation industry, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.”

The hospitality/tourism industry employs about 900,000 people as of 2008, and is expected to grow 4.5 percent each year through 2014, DeBenedetti said. Some of the best-paid jobs within this sector are theme park directors, hotel managers, caterers and event planners

“The growing demand for hospitality and tourism has convinced many high schools and ROP programs to add specialized courses in hospitality and tourism,” DeBenedetti said. “This workshop is for the instructors who will teach those courses.

Before they take on the roles of hospitality providers for the Riverside Marriott, the teachers will “job shadow” people who actually hold these jobs. They will also tour other hotels in the area, to learn about how they provide hospitality.

On-the-job experience is only part of the course for teachers taking part in this professional development workshop offered by Home Economics Careers & Technology. As with any part of the California educational system, there are State Board of Education-approved standards for Hospitality/Tourism programs, which the Department of Education expects all schools to follow. Members of the Home Economics Careers and Technology staff, along with guest instructor Michael Lao of Glendale Community College, will train teachers in how to develop a program that follows those standards.

The standards for all Home Economics Careers and Technology courses were developed with the input of industry leaders and educators.

Teachers will also learn strategies to help students learn the material, how to develop tests and other assignments to measure the students’ grasp of what they have learned, and about resources to help them financially or enhance the training they will provide. As Home Economics Careers and Technology instructors, they will also learn how to use the FHA-HERO leadership and career development program, as a co-curricular organization for students enrolled in Home Economics Careers & Technology courses.

“We are pleased to partner with the California Department of Education and its Home Economics Careers and Technology program in support of the hospitality industry,” said Tom Donahue, general manager of the Riverside Marriott Hotel. “Marriott as a corporation, and the Riverside Marriott, are in full support of partnerships to assist teachers and school districts in the development of this type of specialized training in our schools.”

Home Economics Careers and Technology courses prepare students to work in three industry sectors: Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation (including Culinary Arts); Fashion & Interior Design; and Education, Child Development & Family Services. The courses, which focus on both leadership and career development, are offered in high schools, Regional Occupations Programs and some middle schools.

In the 1970s, California began expanding its home economics courses, taking the focus off traditional homemaking. The program now has a dual focus. One program Consumer and Family Studies, prepares students with personal and life management skills. The other, Home Economics Related Occupations, prepares students for high-skill, high-wage careers in the related industries.

While culinary, fashion and child development courses remain staples of most schools’ home economics curriculum; programs now address broad topics like tourism and hospitality, consumer affairs and energy conservation.

For more information, call Janice DeBenedetti at (916) 323-5025.