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National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's Summer Institutes Give ProStart Educators Cutting-Edge Culinary Techniques to Take Back to the Classroom

- The Darden Foundation Sponsors 28 Educator Scholarships -

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- While school was out this summer, ProStart educators honed their culinary skills at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's (NRAEF) 2014 Summer Institutes, a series of weeklong professional development workshops held at the country's leading culinary schools. In addition to supporting the ProStart program and the Summer Institutes, the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation invested $50,000 to provide Summer Institute scholarships to 28 ProStart Educators.

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Logo

"The NRAEF's Summer Institutes give ProStart educators the opportunity to learn the latest culinary trends and techniques shaping the industry today — from global cuisine to sustainability," said Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. "We are grateful to the Darden Foundation for investing in professional development for the educators who prepare ProStart students to enter the workforce. This level of training and expertise directly benefits our ProStart students, teaching them the skills they need to achieve long term, rewarding careers in the restaurant industry."

This year, The NRAEF offered 14 Summer Institutes in 13 cities. Four different levels of Summer Institutes allowed educators with beginning to advanced culinary expertise to better their own skills and help instruct ProStart students in the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. Educators earned restaurant and foodservice certifications, learned from nationally recognized chefs, networked with peers, toured restaurant and foodservice facilities and received classroom materials.

"Darden is committed to creating opportunity in the communities we serve, and we're honored to contribute to the ongoing development of the ProStart educators," said Stephanie Ghertner, director of the Darden Foundation. "We are incredibly inspired by the 28 recipients of the Summer Institute scholarships, who give a great amount of their time and energy to enable the success of our future culinary professionals."

The following ProStart educators received 2014 Summer Institutes scholarships from Darden:

  • Delrose Adkinson, Hampton City High School, Va.
  • Cheryl Allen, Somersworth Career & Technical Center, Rochester, N.H.
  • Benjie Apodaca, Taos Municipal Schools, Arroyo Seco, N.M.
  • LaRae Arment, Alburenett Community School District, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Kelly Biggs, Southwestern Randolph High School, Asheboro, N.C.
  • Claudia Couch, Mead School District, Colbert, Wash.
  • Jamie Diehl, Ennis School District #52, Ennis, Mont.
  • Angelina Drago, Hammond High Magnet School, Hammond, La.
  • Evelyn Ford, Lexington City Schools, Asheboro, N.C.
  • Stephanie Fox, Fond du Lac School District, Fond du Lac, Wisc.
  • Wanda Grimes, Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, Bamberg, S.C.
  • Debra Hadley, West Caldwell High School, Lenoir, N.C.
  • Sandra Hawk, Buckingham County Public Schools, Buckingham, Va.
  • Jean Heubach, Fairmont High School, Lumberton, N.C.
  • Christy Johnson, Clearwater R-1 High School, Piedmont, Mo.
  • John Keller, Kent County High School, Chestertown, Md.
  • Stephanie Kunkel, Jackson Local Schools, Canton, Ohio
  • Tracey Lee, Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, Stow, Ohio
  • Ann Leider, Elgin High School, Palatine, Ill.
  • Linda Marshall, Iredell Statesville Schools, Troutman, N.C.
  • Patara McDaniel, South Panola High School, Batesville, Miss.
  • Carol Meese, Upshur County Schools, Buckhannon, W.Va.
  • Teresa Mullen, Pocahontas County High School, Dunmore, W.Va.
  • Donna Rudicil, Caldwell County Schools, Lenoir, N.C.
  • Tamara Stelmach, Monroe Career and Technical Institute, Saylorsburg, Pa.
  • Delaine Stendahl, Whitehall School District, Whitehall, Wis.
  • William Twaler, Wando High School, Hollywood, S.C.
  • Adam Williams, Clinton High School Career Complex, Pearl, Miss.

ProStart is taught in more than 1,700 schools to nearly 100,000 students across 48 states, Guam and on Department of Defense military bases. For more information on the ProStart program, visit or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF exists to enhance the restaurant industry's service to the public through education, community engagement and promotion of career opportunities. The NRAEF works to attract, develop and retain a career-oriented professional workforce for the restaurant industry. The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees, making it one of the nation's largest employers. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

About Darden Restaurants:

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI) owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants that generate approximately $6.3 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing 150,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row. Our restaurant brands – Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit

Ashley Rodriguez 
Fish Consulting 
[email protected]

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SOURCE National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

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