Magazine article Techniques

Ooh la la! Oklahoma Culinary Programs Cook Up Great Partnerships with French Counterparts

Magazine article Techniques

Ooh la la! Oklahoma Culinary Programs Cook Up Great Partnerships with French Counterparts

Article excerpt

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Bonjour, merci, au revoir were heard in France but with an odd Oklahoma accent. The dream of the Franco-Oklahoma partnership was being realized. It all began over a year ago when Chantal Manes, now from the French Ministry of Education, visited Oklahoma. The Technologie Academie in Soissons, France, had a goal for all the career and technical students in the Picardie Region of France to have an international experience before completing their technical program.

Manes was visiting Oklahoma on another project but wanted to connect with the career tech system. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education identified in its strategic plan the importance of preparing CTE students for the global economy. The goals of the two were aligned and ready to be realized in an unexpected way.

Conversations were begun during Manes' visit to Oklahoma. During her subsequent visit, arrangements were made for a tour of Francis Tuttle Technology Center, because she wanted to see an American technology school. During the tour, the idea was sparked for an initial partnership; the culinary program at Francis Turtle seemed a good match with the French culinary academies. When she met Chef Claes Passmark, the ideas began to flow, along with the chef's famous cookies.

During the course of the year, and with many e-mails exchanged, a plan was developed to pair Francis Tuttle with Lycee le Hotoie in Amiens. Hotoie's Chef Thierry Blanet and Chef Passmark determined they could alternate teaching between them with a monthly teleconference. It was this pilot that provided Manes with a model to seek funding for an exchange project.

When Manes was awarded a grant from the French Ministry of Education, she contacted Belinda McCharen, Francis Turtle Endowed Chair for Occupational Education Studies at Oklahoma State University, with whom she had engaged in previous conversation; the idea was to begin plans for four Oklahoma technology centers to partner with four Lycees in France. The French Lycee schools are noted for excellence in hotel and restaurant management and culinary arts. This first international partnership was based on the pilot with Francis Tuttle.

Oklahoma Culinary Arts Programs Think International

The four technology centers in Oklahoma with culinary programs that were ready to expand from good to exceptional with an international flair were: Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City; Meridian Technology Center, Stillwater; Tri County Technology Center in Bartlesville; and Tulsa Technology Center in Tulsa. Boards of education had to be convinced that such a partnership was beneficial, and a teacher and administrator from each technology center were sent to France to begin planning a yearlong project with the French Lycee.

The technology center superintendents, boards of education, and teachers all understood the potential for changing instruction and changing the opportunities for CTE students in the future. Stephanie Lemoines, of Lycee Charles de Gaulle in Compiegne, coordinated the partnering schools in France, and McCharen coordinated the Oklahoma technology centers. A date was selected and travel arrangements set. The Oklahomans were headed to France.

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Meeting the French Partners

The anticipation was palpable when the Oklahoma group met at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris to take the hour-long trip to Soissons. The Lycee Le Corbusier would serve as host for the initial meeting of the technology centers and Lycee schools. LeCorbusier is the largest Lycee and also has a dormitory for its resident students. The group was met with vans, smiles and bises (kisses) in the French tradition at the train station. A welcome dinner was planned to welcome the Oklahomans to France.

At the dinner meeting, Lemoines and Dominique Mallet, headmaster of Le Corbusier, greeted each technology center and its Lycee partner. …

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