Washougal, WA — The successful Washougal School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) program focuses on providing students with real world experiences led by knowledgeable, passionate staff. The newest addition to that staff is Alexandra Yost, Washougal’s first CTE Professional Technical Assistant or Pro Tech, for short.
“We are delighted that Alex is bringing her extensive business and culinary background to the team,” said Margaret Rice, WSD CTE Director. Yost is the former owner and chef of OurBar in downtown Washougal and is currently a member of the Washougal City Council. She is also very politically active in the area, and frequently attends and organizes local Black Lives Matter (BLM) rallies condemning police violence while calling for racial equality and justice. She has also advocated for defunding the Washougal police.
“Alex’s focus along with supporting CTE teachers will be managing two new, exciting CTE educational opportunities that feature project-based learning,” said Rice. “One is the development of a CTE operated food truck and the second is implementation of a Green Schools Program to our high school in collaboration with WSD Culinary Services.”
In spring 2020, a food truck was purchased by the WSD CTE Department with the goal to create a student-led food truck business. “This truck will literally be a vehicle for learning,” said Rice. “Literally! It is also an extension of our professional kitchen facility in the Excelsior Building at WHS.”
The learning around the food truck is expected to reach far beyond the development of food plans and food service.
“WHS students will participate in all aspects of the project development,” explained Yost. “Students will work on a business plan, learn about health department rules, navigate through local permitting and licensing, develop manuals for training and safety and even the creation of marketing. There will also be opportunities in manufacturing, welding, small engine service/repair and maintenance for students interested in those CTE experiences.”
When operational, the food truck will be available for hire to serve the community at events and will be student led. Yost is developing a team of mentors to counsel students in this project work.
“We want as many aspects of the food truck as we can to be project-based and student led/created so the first step is a contest to develop a name and will be open to all students of WSD,” explained Rice. “The name should be representative of our community, perhaps with some derivative Washougal. It needs to be appropriate for all ages, be catchy and not already copyrighted.”
The contest process is in the works and will be announced soon and run through February 26. Details can be found on the Washougal School District website at http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/cte/food-truck/. The next student contest will be to design the artwork to adorn the truck.
Yost is also tasked with development of a CTE Green Team. This effort will bring education, sustainability, and reduced carbon footprint to the WSD High School Culinary Services department, which became self-operated over the summer.
“A major aspect of that transition has been the move to scratch production of meals,” said Rice. “With that change it was also the right time to bring the Green Schools concept to the high school. Our students have been sorting and recycling food waste and trash in our elementary and middle schools for some time. The high school program will provide an opportunity for students to continue these efforts.”
“Ultimately we want to take this Green Team experience and education down to the classroom level as well as eventually developing a Green Ambassadors program in which students are driving the program forward leading a sustainable program that can be passed on for years to come,” said Yost.
This environmentally focused program sits firmly in WSD’s mission pillars of sustainability and stewardship of resources, partnerships to support students, educational engagement, and equity to include all students. The goal is to involve students to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and contributions to the landfill while taking these experiences forward in life. Their efforts also help to save District operational funds by reducing waste and disposal costs.
“The program also brings in aspects of our career and college readiness by introducing students to companies such as Waste Connections,” said Rice. “They will see various elements of career opportunities they may not have realized existed. In a time when it seems like everything is changing and nothing is ‘normal’, we are trying to take every opportunity to teach our students how to learn from change, collaborate and adapt to find efficiencies in the ‘new’ so we can continually improve the current situation.”