Thursday, July 24, 2008


Carol Bertotto, (right) culinary arts and restaurant management teacher at Eisenhower High School in Rialto, learns the finer points of greeting newly-arrived guests at the Riverside Marriott Hotel from front desk supervisor Christina Herrera. Bertotto took part in a seminar on Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation put on by Home Economics, Careers and Technology, which supports the program at Eisenhower and other schools throughout California.

(RIVERSIDE, California) From small towns on the Oregon border to South Central Los Angeles, California secondary teachers see the hospitality and tourism industry as something that could give their students a great future.

To better prepare them for that future, nine Home Economics Careers and Technology teachers spent the week of June 23 through June 27 at the Riverside Marriott Hotel gaining an inside view of the industry through workshops and mini-internships. In these internships, they helped Marriott employees do the work that goes on each day in a hotel.

“There are jobs here that could give my students a great income as they work their way through college,” said Carol Bertotto, “And if a person has a passion to work in this industry, and learns their job well, there is room for advancement into well-paid careers.”

Bertotto already teaches culinary arts and restaurant management at Eisenhower High School in Rialto. This year, her school is changing its curriculum to create “pathways” students can follow to careers in specific industry sectors, and will add a tourism/hospitality course to its Home Economics Careers and Technology program.

Each participating teacher spent part of her week in five separate internships, each in one of nine areas of the hotel: Accounting, Outlets (restaurants), Catering, Concierge, Front Desk, Housekeeping, Kitchen, Reservations and Security. During the two-hour internships, a department supervisor explained his or her job, then allowed the teacher to have some “on-the-job” experience.

The employees also shared some insider tips. For instance, the teachers who did the Outlets internships in the afternoon hours learned how to pour beer bottles into mugs without causing them to foam excessively, while those doing this internship in the morning learned the secrets of mixing Marriott’s specialty coffee drinks.

And those who did the Concierge internship learned the lengths the hotel will go to for earning and keeping their customers’ repeat business. For any guest, that includes an eagerness to meet their customers’ needs, going so far as to run to the nearby drugstore for things like special brands of toothpaste or a bathing suit.

“CVS is my best friend,” said Corliss Brown, the evening concierge. “And before they opened (in February 2008), I sometimes ran all over Riverside looking for things.”

Some of the hotel’s guests have stayed at the Riverside Marriott frequently, or for a great length of time, and have qualified for a “frequent-stayer” rewards program. This includes floors reserved just for them with gift baskets on arrival and a luxury hospitality suite that comes with a near fully-stocked bar.
“We know some of them almost like family,” Brown said. “So, I want them to feel like they are at home.”

“In this business, we have learned the most important thing is the customer,” said Sharon Yonohera, who teaches tourism and hospitality to students at Big Valley High School in Bieber, California. “They have to be people pleasers. They have to be flexible. They have to work hard. We have to teach our students to do that.”

In addition to their mini-internships, the teachers heard presentations from Riverside Marriott General Manager Tom Donahue, Glendale Community College Tourism/Hospitality instructor Michael Lao, and the state’s Home Economics Careers and Technology staff. They also went on tours of the Riverside Convention Center, the Marriott Courtyard Inn in Riverside and the Mission Inn, to learn how these businesses provide hospitality to their guests.

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 the focus beyond 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.