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The Legacy of Culinary Teacher Mr. Garcia

When walking into Jorge Garcia’s classroom, it is immediate that you feel a sense of fun and a stress-free environment. He is cherished by many, from the school administration to his students, and he accomplishes this with his wit and effective teaching style. Speaking as one of his current students, he has always been a laid-back, but resourceful teacher. There is never a dull moment in his class and those who have had the privilege of studying with his instruction have all expressed a large degree of respect for this reason.

Garcia frequently places an emphasis on going straight to the point of his lectures, giving students an understandable and clear base of knowledge to continue delving into the subject material. There is a collective attitude toward this form of teaching, and Garcia returns this by exhibiting no shame in answering questions or repeating content for the class. “I just kind of try to create an environment students want to be in,” said Garcia. This positive attitude of his never fails to be channeled throughout the classroom, keeping students bright, happy, and ready to learn. Finding enjoyment in sitting in a class makes things significantly easier to put forth maximum effort and consequently produce only the best work and performance.

Taking the path that students seldom take, Garcia chose the culinary arts program to be heavily involved in during high school. It was not his first direction, however, as he was initially not planning to pursue the position of a culinary teacher when going to college. “I went full circle, came back, said this is what I like, this is what I like to do,” shares Garcia regarding his transitions in career decisions. At last, his final destination in his exploration of career passions was education, more specifically, physical education. Despite this, he decided to stray away from athletics, being a subject that most of his peers had entered, and rekindle his passion for culinary, as he had the years before.

Garcia initially went to Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, and it was then that he planned to transfer to the University of Florida. He had actually already chosen architecture as his major prior to deciding culinary was his final passion. Therefore, he switched majors to home economics education, which is what culinary is referred to today. Unfortunately, the University of Florida did not offer the program he desired, so he made the decision to return home and complete his college courses at the International University of Florida.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this final decision into teaching culinary is expressed by Garcia to be in how his effort to teach his students reflects in how they delve into challenging work and assignments without hesitation. “Even in their projects, they demonstrate their passion, and that’s always rewarding for us as teachers,” he said.

His only pet peeve when doing labs and assignments or during mishaps and messes is when students fail to pay attention or follow his directions, as everything he has prepared from his course content to teaching methods was developed to avoid these problems. “I’ll tell them straight out you know. The First thing I’ll says is to use one cup of sugar, and then right after someone asks about how much sugar they should use,” Garcia shared. Despite this, he sees how this is often understandable, especially if they are first-time students in the program. With this in mind, he tries to make light of this and apply his humor in these situations. This sarcasm, he finds, has worked well towards helping his students learn and remember their mistakes from a positive approach, instead of being solely harsh. It is an effective way for them to improve from an enjoyable standpoint. Like himself, whether mistakes are big or small, there is always room for students to better themselves through self-improvement that he hopes to facilitate.

Garcia’s years of teaching, by far, have become some of the most memorable and funniest periods of his life. They have all become experiences that he would not replace for anything in the world. One of these most interesting student moments was how, “instead of using a dustpan to clean up something, she turned around and asked me where to throw this away. Only she didn’t use a dustpan, she used an ice scooper,” said Garcia. This memory has become one of the many that he will never forget and turn back to for a laugh.

Garcia, after sharing so many wonderful times in education, is planning to retire with these memories and will do so feeling accomplished for impacting so many lives after being in the system for 30 happy years. With this, he is, without a doubt, leaving a legacy of many generations of students that he has taught to be prepared for their futures and be well-rounded individuals.

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