Students in Mobile County Public Schools culinary arts programs now have a unique opportunity to take college courses that will ultimately earn them college credit, thanks to a new articulation agreement between the system and the Mobile campus of Virginia College.
The agreement, signed Thursday at Murphy High School, gives culinary students at Murphy and Williamson high schools the opportunity to take select culinary courses at Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College, and receive future course credit upon enrollment there after graduation from high school.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for our students who are serious about a career in the culinary field,” said Larry Mouton, MCPSS Assistant Superintendent of Workforce Development. “Virginia College’s dual enrollment program is unique in that the students are required to take classes similar to their high school courses when they go to the college, but at no cost to the student. Other dual enrollment programs give college credit for the courses taken in high school. We believe that giving the students another helping of similar curriculum in the focused college environment will lead to the students absorbing the content deeper and creating a stronger college graduate.”
The Culinard courses available for high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12 are: Hospitality and Tourism, Culinary Arts I and Culinary Arts II. Once graduated from high school and enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at Virginia College’s Mobile campus, students may seek articulated credit and a scholarship up to $1,324 if they earned an A or B in all secondary culinary courses from their local high school.
“A love for the culinary arts can start in high school, and it’s never too early to begin nurturing and cultivating that passion,” said Chef Antony Osborne, national dean of Culinary and Hospitality Programs for Education Corporation of America. “Establishing this partnership will help students interested in pursuing a culinary career to get a jump-start on their education. We’re thrilled to be a part of this and we look forward to working with and equipping these students.”
Osborne added that Virginia College also has an agreement with Disney that offers externship opportunities for culinary students at its famous theme parks and other properties. Chef Paul Wooten, program director for culinary arts at Virginia College, said the opportunities for culinary students in Mobile itself are exploding.
“The potential in the hospitality industry and the culinary arts field – you don’t need to go anywhere. It’s here now,” Wooten said. “Whether or not you become a chef down the road, what the culinary arts field can teach you is discipline, understanding that hard work does pay off in the end.”
Administrators and teachers from Murphy and Williamson high schools, each of which have culinary programs, attended the signing ceremony Thursday at Murphy. Hors d’oeuvres were prepared by Murphy High’s culinary arts students.
Williamson High Principal Kirven Lang said his school is partnering its culinary and maritime programs with an eye toward preparing culinary arts students for future careers on cruise boats or in the U.S. Coast Guard, which offers generous bonuses for recruits with a culinary background.
“The agreement with Virginia College ensures that our culinary students will remain on the cutting edge in their field,” added Murphy High principal Joe Toomey. “I am sure this will lead to large numbers of students gravitating to our already stellar program.”