UD hosts international gathering of hospitality teachers

11:56 a.m., July 3, 2007--UD's Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) and the Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware hotel hosted a five-day American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) Lodging Institute for high school teachers from around the world, June 25-29.

Brian Miller, HRIM assistant professor, acted as facilitator for the thirteen teachers from five nations as they were given a crash course--complete with on-the-job-training--in the hospitality/tourism industry.

“It is our goal to provide you with opportunity to interact with a variety of industry professionals, the ability to shadow employees working in the hotel, tour the Iron Hill Brewery and access resources that you can use in your classrooms,” Miller told participants.

Throughout the week, teachers and instructors had classes in Internet use, curriculum development, best practices, hotel management, front office operations, housekeeping, inventory control and night auditing. They also spent one day working alongside hotel employees.

Joanne Ussery with Philadelphia Academies said she teaches lodging management and the she's been able to network with other teachers and share experiences that she might be able to incorporate into the academy's programs.

Irma Rojas a business teacher at Antilles High School, a U.S. defense department facility in Puerto Rico, said she teaches accounting, computers, business and lodging management and all of her courses are related to the everyday operations of the hotel. She said the institute is allowing her to get a firsthand idea of what goes on in a hotel, something she can take back to her students.

The institute included a meeting with with Bill Sullivan, the managing director of the Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware hotel, who described hotel operations, owner/management structure and a management philosophy dedicated to customer satisfaction.

Daniel Dittmeier, a teacher with the Department of Defense Education Agency in Naples, Italy, was impressed with the morale of the Courtyard staff. “This hotel is outstanding. The staff is an incredible team. They have really good rapport with each other.

“I learned how interesting it can be when the lights go out in the hotel,” Dittmeier said. “The lights went out at around 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday. Many of the guests came into the lobby.” He said 10 employees reported to work voluntarily within 15 minutes after learning about the blackout. He said the hotel went out of its way to make guests as comfortable as possible with staff delivering food to rooms, escorting people to their rooms and offering free refreshments in the lobby.

Michael Jeffers, a teacher at Central High School in West Helena, Ark., said he teaches lodging management, and when he started the fledgling high school course all he had was a borrowed textbook and workbook from the local community college. He said he came to the institute because he expected to find a better way to teach the course. “I now have textbooks, some basic knowledge and a teaching method that I can apply to the classroom,” he said.

Teachers finished off their week being tested on the information they had been absorbing all week.

Article by Barbara Garrison