Culinary Arts instructor Jeffrey Zahniser walked into his kitchen-classroom today fully prepared to teach his students another lesson about the art of cooking. What he wasn’t expecting was a surprise reception congratulating him as the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) 2018 Teacher of the Year.
“Chef Jeff,” as he is affectionately known, teaches Culinary Arts at Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High School. During his tenure in the Culinary Arts Program at SCOE, he has developed a curriculum that helps ensure students learn life skills and be competitive in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He has credentials as a Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator.
“You can’t help but notice Chef Jeff’s calm and patient demeanor, and his commitment to his students,” said Palmiter Principal Lauren Roth. “He is able to meet the needs of students with varying abilities and skills.”
In conjunction with the vision of Palmiter’s “Sustainable Environments Pathway,” Chef Jeff works closely with SCOE’s CTE Horticulture instructor. He teaches students how to use organic produce in cooking and uses the school’s organic garden to obtain fresh and seasonal produce. Chef Jeff’s background as a Certified ServSafe Instructor qualifies him to help his students earn a Food Handler’s Certificate, which is a requirement for employment in a California restaurant.
Zahniser, a SCOE employee since 2011, was honored as Certificated Employee of the Month for May 2012. He was one of eight teachers nominated to compete this year for the honor of being SCOE 2018 Teacher of the Year.
Since 1988, SCOE has celebrated its teachers and the important work they do by selecting a SCOE Teacher of the Year. (A historical listing of past SCOE Teachers of the Year is available online.) SCOE teachers are nominated by parents, staff, management, or their peers. The nominees go through a selection process, answering written questions and being formally interviewed. Teachers report that this process helps them see their many accomplishments, coming away with a renewed sense of dedication and a reminder about why they entered the teaching profession.
Zahniser will be honored, along with teachers representing other Sacramento County school districts, at the annual Teachers of the Year awards dinner, which will be held August 25. During the ceremony, two teachers will be named the Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2018 and will become eligible to compete in the California Teachers of the Year Program.