Chef Sheila Beckley’s recipe for helping students succeed is to combine her real-world experience with her academic background.
Beckley teaches the Culinary Arts-Chef Program in Front Range’s College Now-Career Pathways program. College Now is Front Range’s college program for high school students. Culinary Arts-Chef Program is one of 10 year-long career/technical education programs on the Larimer Campus specifically for high school students. Students have the option of earning college credits along with their high school credits.
A professional chef.
Beckley has worked in the pastry department at the Hotel Intercontinental in Manila, the Philippines; in the kitchen of a French restaurant; in the kitchen of a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant; and in a full-service catering operation.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from the University of Philippines and a Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Colorado State University. She earned sugar and chocolate certificates from the world-renowned Notter School of Confectionery Arts.
Chefs in demand around the world.
After working in her native Philippines, Beckley sought an adventure. “I wanted to work a couple of years somewhere else,” she says. So she applied to work in such diverse settings as the kitchens of a Saudi prince, cruise lines, and restaurants and hotels in Germany and the United States. “And there you go,” she says. “I came to the United States.” Today, she is a U.S. citizen.
While on the East Coast, she took the classes to earn the Notter School certificates. Having relatives in Colorado, she then came to Fort Collins, working for a year at All-Occasions Catering and then seized the opportunity to teach at Front Range.
Real-world experience comes to the classroom.
“When I was in college,” she says, “I had really good experiences with very effective teachers from industry. They had invaluable information to share. I thought of doing the same thing after gaining work experience.”
She loves teaching.
“Teaching is fulfilling for me,” she says, “because it’s a really worthy cause. It’s education. It’s a tremendous responsibility. You can do so much. You can inspire so much. You have so much influence.”
Beckley focuses on student success.
“You can change the lives of students,” she says. “For example, the mother of one of my students called our director to say her son’s life had changed. When he started class, he had no direction. Well, in class he found out what he wanted to do. That student ended up going to Johnson and Wales University. When something like that happens – wow!”
Beckley once taught a special-needs student how to use public-transit maps so the student could navigate to a class-required internship. The student now works independently in food service in the Northeast. “When you can use transit maps, you’ll never be lost,” she says. “It’s a life skill.”
And another student who graduated from the Culinary Arts-Chef Program used the experience to get a job at a university dining hall while majoring in theater studies. The kitchen skills were helpful, of course, but so were other skills learned in the class.
“One great thing about our College Now programs is that a work ethics course is embedded in every program, not just in Culinary Arts. Students learn the ‘soft skills’ that are necessary for success in any workplace.”
Culinary skills and workplace skills – that’s a recipe for success.