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Article: JVS Teachers Going Above and Beyond

JVS Teachers Going Above and Beyond

JVS Hospitality Services Instructor Maurina Driscoll films JVS Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Timothy Michitsch as he cooks at home for his JVS Facebook Culinary Group

Across the state of Ohio and the country, teachers are doing what they can to not only educate their students, but keep the bond with them during the COVID-19 crisis.

With students at home online teaching is the new normal in Ohio until at least May 1. Lorain County JVS teachers are continuing the learning process for their students each and every day. As a career technical school with hands-on lab work, JVS teachers have to think outside the box for these experiences and are relying on technology to keep the education of their students moving forward. 

JVS Culinary Arts Instructor, Chef Timothy Michitsch, came up with an idea to help his students stay connected and keep their skills sharp during this time of social distancing. “I wanted a way for the students to be able to connect, learn and keep cooking. So I thought about building a private Facebook group,” said Michitsch. 

Culinary Arts senior, Megan Rataj from Clearview, assisted Chef Michitsch, and got the page set up and the students invited. They were off and running. Soon, students were posting videos, and photos of themselves cooking at home.

Access to the page is limited to culinary arts juniors and seniors, hospitality services students, a few JVS culinary arts alumni and some culinary professionals.

“It really is a great way for them to get together, when they are physically far apart, to share their cooking projects, and stay connected with me,” said Michitsch.

For their grade, Michitsch emails the students an outline of the assignment that is flexible for every student and family. The students are to cook twice a week, type a lab plan for their assignment, take photos or videos of the recipe and procedure as they go along, showcasing each step of the process such as sanitation, organization, following the recipe and cleaning up. They also have a rubric and evaluation for families to fill out and grade.

All of these items are emailed back to Michitsch and the students are graded from what they send.

Flexibility is key with this type of learning. Currently, seniors are learning about seafood, but knowing that this is expensive and not wanting his students to go out or purchase items that are at a higher price point, Michitsch has the students utilize what they have on hand and work within their family’s personal budget.

“Students are cooking casseroles, omelets, briskets, sausage with peppers, and pasta to name a few,” shared Michitsch.

As far as the Facebook page goes, Michitsch said that the response has been good so far. “Many students are engaging on the page, posting pictures and videos. I would like to see more comments back and forth between the students themselves, to keep the line of support open.”

Chef Michitsch also makes daily appearances on the page. He can thank his wife, JVS Hospitality Services Instructor Maurina Driscoll, for that.

“It was my idea for Tim to cook,” Driscoll shared. “We cook what we have on hand, we don’t practice, and it is all done in one take. We are learning as we are going too!”

“We try to cook and post every day,” said Driscoll. “But even when we order in, we post that too, to show how we are trying to support local restaurants during this time as well.” 

JVS Culinary Arts Alumni are also getting in on the action. “I’m trying to find new ways for the students to stay engaged and the thought of bringing alumni in came to mind,” Michitsch said. So far alumni Jon Standen, 2001 grad, Executive Chef at Columbia Hills Golf Club, Columbia Station, OH; Amos Bigler, 2005 grad, Chef de Cuisine at Tribeca Rooftop & 360 Events, New York City, NY; and Russell Ashton, 2007 grad, Executive Chef at The Spaniard, NYC are posting on the page.

In this time of crisis and uncertainty, the basic act of cooking food is helping to bring this group together, even from a distance. And this can give us all something to smile about.

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