The Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation (WHAEF) works hard to keep its ProStart program active in its partner schools, but the ones who put even more work into keeping it running are the educators who put so much of their time, effort, and dedication into making sure the students get all that they can out of the program.  Each year at the Washington State ProStart Invitational, the WHAEF honors an educator who has shown an extraordinary amount of commitment to their students.  This year’s Washington State ProStart Educator of the Year is Joanie Pringle-Jones from Mt. Spokane High School!

Not only is Joanie Pringle-Jones the Mt. Spokane educator for their ProStart program, she is an amazing individual who has dedicated her 35-year teaching career to educating young people about the importance of healthy living throughout their life, and includes culinary training along with the curriculum.  In these classes, she has Food labs that cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and even snacks.

Every summer, Joanie and the Mt. Spokane High School put on a summer camp for students in grades 3-7 which gives these young kids a chance to learn valuable culinary skills. She hires students from the high school’s ProStart program who work in each of the units to help the kids.  Each day is from 9am to 1pm.  They have a different theme each day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks.  Each child receives an apron on the first day, and a starters kitchen kit and a camp cookbook on the last day.

The summer camp has been such a success that Joanie and the school decided to try putting on some evening classes.  The first of these was titled “March Madness in the Kitchen (they are a basketball town with Gonzaga!)” for grades 3-8.  They opened registration on a Monday at 4:30pm and had all their open slots filled by 8pm that same night, and had to put 20 people on the waiting list!  Again, Joanie hired ProStart students to help the youngsters.  They learned how to prepare 12 appetizers which they could make for their own Gonzaga watch parties.  They also were given a cookbook with all the recipes they learned in class, and a container of fresh, homemade salsa.  There will be one more class offered before the school year ends.  The theme will be “easy breakfast and lunch ideas for summer.”  Many of the students who are taking this class have working parents, so there will be a focus on recipes the kids can make by themselves.  Joanie is hoping to continue these evening classes next year, once a month, with each having a different theme.

The educational community is honored and privileged to have teachers such as Joanie Pringle-Jones working tirelessly to give the young people of our state every opportunity to succeed.  The WHAEF is grateful we have the chance to honor these special individuals who put so much time and effort into our state’s students.  Thank you for all your amazing work, Joanie Pringle-Jones!

By Emily Hearn