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Carissa Jones Selected as SCOE 2021 Teacher of the Year

Culinary Arts Instructor Works in Juvenile Court School Program

Carissa Jones wearing white chef's jacket and holding a bunch of herbs

The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) is announcing that Carissa Jones, a culinary arts instructor at the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (YDF), has been named the SCOE Teacher of the Year for 2021.

Chef Jones teaches a culinary arts pre-apprenticeship program to students in grades 9–12 who are incarcerated and attend El Centro Jr./Sr. High School in SCOE’s Court School Program. Students housed in YDF receive academic, technical, and elective instruction from SCOE teachers in a program that provides quality services to help students ready themselves for post-secondary and career readiness.

“I feel like I’m learning more every day. I’m always pushing myself to learn more,” said Jones, who was surprised with the news of her selection yesterday during a virtual SCOE Leadership meeting.

Jones is a former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu cooking institute. In her classroom, she combines real-life culinary experience with teaching. She utilizes the culinary program not just to prepare El Centro students to enter the workforce, but to help them grasp math, science, nutrition, and reading comprehension concepts, along with general life skills. Students who struggle in a traditional academic setting learn that they can succeed in ways they may never have imagined. She creates all curriculum and assessments necessary to not only adhere to California Career Technical Education (CTE) Hospitality guidelines, but also to help students meet the demands of the local hospitality industry.

Along with SCOE culinary instructor Chef Stephen Hazelton, Chef Jones recently appeared in a series of “Cooking in the Classroom” video lessons aimed at keeping culinary students engaged and learning during COVID-19 physical distancing.

Jones is now eligible to participate in the Sacramento County Teachers of the Year 2021 program.