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Columbia-Greene instructors visit several HFM programs

Questar III Culinary Instructor Peter Desmond demonstrates how to make bananas Foster during a recent visit to the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Career and Technical Center. HFM Foundation of Foods Instructor Rebecca Skretkowicz and HFM Career and Technical Education student Brandon Lewis from Amsterdam High School look on. (Photo submitted)

JOHNSTOWN — Instructors at the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Career and Technical Center recently had the opportunity for some classroom collaboration with instructors from other regions in the state, and the teachers plan to keep working together to continue to improve experiences for students, according to a news release.

On Feb. 27, instructors from the Columbia-Greene Educational Center at Questar III Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which serves Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties, visited the HFM Foundations of Food Service and Criminal Justice programs to work with the instructors and students.

The collaborative visit was organized by HFM Foundation of Foods Instructor Rebecca Skretkowicz and Questar Culinary Instructor Peter Desmond. The two instructors are on the board of directors of the New York State Trade and Technical Teachers Association, a nonprofit organization founded in August 2017 that assists career and technical education staff across the state to collaborate on curriculum, ideas for projects, assessment strategies, technical assessments, and student management needs. Skretkowicz and Desmond represent a 17-county area from the Upper Hudson region to the Canadian border.

Skretkowicz said by collaborating she and Desmond were able to discuss their teaching approaches and ideas for future projects. During the visit, Desmond instructed HFM students on the preparation of banana and pineapple Foster. Skretkowicz observed the lesson and then she and Desmond collaborated to assist with their professional development goals.

Also Wednesday, Questar criminal justice instructor Anthony Pierro visited the HFM Criminal Justice program spending the morning working with HFM criminal justice instructor Tom Nethaway. The two discussed lesson plans and teaching techniques, and Pierro observed a lesson, which he intends bringing back to Questar for his students.

According to the NYSTTTA, professional development has been one of the greatest challenges faced by CTE teachers over the past decade as many workshops tend to be geared more toward traditional school settings.

“Opportunities like this are important to teachers in the CTE field,” said Skretkowicz, who also recently visited the Albany City School District’s Abrookin Career and Technical Center to work with colleagues there.

“At NYSTTA we’re planning to organize more opportunities for CTE instructors to network and connect.”

“Especially as a new instructor, these opportunities to collaborate with other professionals are extremely valuable,” said Nethaway, who retired from the Amsterdam Police Department and began teaching at HFM last year.

Desmond said in the private sector chefs will often meet to discuss their work and what new ideas they have.

“We have to support each other,” Desmond said. “It was great to see HFM. It’s a great facility.”

Skretkowicz is currently serving her first year on the NYSTTTA board of directors. She’s worked at the HFM Career and Technical Center since 2003 and has been the Foundations of Food Service instructor for the last five years.

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