Hospitality teacher takes students beyond the virtual classroom to keep them engaged

A London high school hospitality teacher is getting high marks from students and parents for going “above and beyond” in his virtual classes.

“I like that he’s trying his best and he’s making the most of what he’s given,” said 15-year-old Brandon Martin. The Grade 10 student is a pupil in one of David Rosen’s cooking and hospitality classes at Saunders Secondary School.

These virtual classes are not typical.

Rosen is fully set up in the school’s large commercial kitchen, complete with restaurant equipment and everything needed to teach cooking and hospitality. Each day Mr. Rosen conducts live online cooking classes while his students watch from home on their computers, taking part through comments and class discussion.

“I liked cooking and all that before I went into this class but now it’s kind of pushing me out of my boundaries in trying new recipes and stuff like that,” said Brandon.

Rosen said he knew he needed to get creative to keep students engaged in the online classes.

“Obviously it’s been very difficult because we’ve been thrown in and out of the buildings you know, and in and out of this remote learning model. So a lot of us have tried our best to engage with students and keep them coming back at 8:30 every morning.”

Brandon’s father Matt said he’s seen positive changes in his son as he has progressed through the course.

“The fact that teachers such as Mr. Rosen are going above and beyond the call of duty, that makes me really proud to be a parent of students during this difficult time.”

Rosen has also taken his virtual classes on the road.

Last week he embarked on a series of virtual field trips, visiting a flour mill, a farm, an orchard and a butcher, “So that students can appreciate where our food comes from and why it’s important to source food locally,” he said.

As for Brandon, some nights it’s his turn to cook for the family. And while it's passion today, it may be a career for a lifetime.

“I’ve really started to enjoy it a lot more, and I’m really thinking about going in to that.”