‘Teacher of the Week’ introduces culinary arts to high school students

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Combining in-person teaching and virtual learning classes during the pandemic has many teachers feeling a bit stretched.

If you’re in the hall outside Jennifer Wright’s culinary class at New Hanover High School, things sound normal, but once you step inside, you’ll quickly notice something missing–students.

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New Hanover County Schools is currently operating under Plan B due to the pandemic. Half of the students attend school on Monday and Tuesday. The other half come on Thursday and Friday. No students are at school on Wednesday.

On the day we showed up to surprise Wright as our ‘Teacher of the Week,‘ no students were in class but a few joined in remotely home.

“They really want to be here but they can’t because they’re too scared they might have the virus,” she said. “I would like to have some normalcy, and I know that is going to be a while so you just have to do the best you can with what you have.”

The ‘Teacher of the Week’ nomination WWAY received said, in part, Wright “cares about her students” and “maintains incredible balance of in-person teaching, virtual teaching and meetings.”

“I’m kind of in shock honestly,” Wright said. “I didn’t expect them to say such nice things honestly, that’s very nice to be appreciated.”

An East Carolina University graduate, Wright has taught 12 years of which eight have been at NHHS.

“I really want them to learn the ins and outs of healthy nutrition, knowing portion control, knowing what foods they should and should not eat, learning how to have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

In addition to teaching and other responsibilities at the school, Wright is also working on a Master’s degree in Food Business with the Culinary Institute of America which often allows her to introduce her students to professional chefs.

“I really want these students to realize there’s more than just these four walls, that there is something out there for them,” Wright said. “If its culinary, wonderful, if it’s not, at least they get an idea that there’s more out there than just the school building.”

Principal Rob Morgan says providing students with experiences that help them explore possible career paths is important.

“I think the benefit of a program like this, and working with teachers like Ms. Wright and others is — they get to ask questions and get to see the connection between programs we’re offering and programs that other schools and universities are offering as well whether it’s a traditional track or not,” he said.

Morgan was thrilled we selected one of his teachers as our ‘Teacher of the Week.’

“Any kind of positive news we get today I think is worthwhile,” he said. “I really appreciate you coming to recognize her.”

Well-deserved recognition for a teacher who knows the ingredients of hard work and training, can help her students achieve career success.

“Whatever it takes to make them want to learn, is what you’ve got to do,” Wright said.

If you know a teacher making an impact in the classroom, click here to submit a nomination. Don’t forget, each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card.