The Volusia County Schools Teacher of the Year was also recognized for his excellence in teaching.
Volusia County Schools Teacher of the Year, Jason Kester, was awarded the Magic of Leadership Award at the Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year awards gala on July 14 at Hard Rock Live.
The award was one of four awards presented to educators who went beyond the basic job description with unique abilities to continue positive growth in their students. Kester is the culinary teacher at Mainland High School and was selected for instilling leadership skills in his students, such as Sofia Slimak who was selected as the statewide student of the year by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Kester received a crystal trophy and $500 Macy’s gift card.
Kester was also recognized, along with district winners from around the state, for his achievements and excellence in teaching. Each of the nominees was presented with a $10,880 personal cash award from the Department of Education and Macy’s.
As the founder and director of the Academy of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Mainland High School, Kester collaborates with two other instructors, and facilitates a student management team. As a branch leader in Mainland’s new wall-to-wall career academy model, he supervises three academies and works in partnership with 25 teachers. He is also a teacher mentor for two, first-year faculty members, serves as a teacher leader with a team of nine other teachers, and is a program assistant for the high school culinary program at the county level.
The Mainland High School culinary program is one of 21 Premier ProStart programs in the state of Florida, as determined by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Culinary students participate in competitions, frequently cater special events, and are encouraged to earn the ProStart Certificate of Achievement, which is a CAPE (Career and Professional Education) industry certification. Last year, six of Kester’s students passed the rigorous state certification.