Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding ‘The Right Mix’

Challenges are found in all professions. In education, it can be hard to find a common ground between parents, students and co-workers.

Recently, Spring Branch ISD set out on a quest for “The Right Mix” to build lasting professional and courtesy-infused relationships by teaching employees how to combine vinegar and oil into a tasty vinaigrette  dressing with the help of the staff at the Guthrie Center’s Culinary Arts Program kitchens.

Becky Wuerth, district community relations specialist, offers a series of special cooking classes for SBISD employees as part of the Share A Smile customer service campaign. The classes, so far, include, “The Right Mix,” “Recipe for Success,” and “We are Delicious.”
SBISD has put new effort into improving customer service through the Share A Smile campaign, started in August 2012 by Wuerth. The internal program aims at providing top-notch service to students, families, fellow colleagues and the community. SBISD believes that by working as a team, staff can provide outstanding service to the roughly 35,000 students who choose our campuses for an unmatched education.
Wuerth has worked with various colleagues around the district to develop and provide a variety of staff development offerings to support the four cornerstones of Share A Smile campaign: Welcoming, Hearing, Valuing, and Helping customers. Multiple classes have been held for employees at locations that include the SBISD Administration Building and the Guthrie Center.
Most training sessions involve group interaction and hands-on learning to reinforce the concepts.
Each of the three cooking lessons Wuerth teaches covers a separate theme in the Share A Smile campaign. The newest lesson, “The Right Mix,” teaches employees about valuing customers and handling complex situations using the metaphors involved in the process of making a vinaigrette salad dressing.
Led by the Guthrie culinary chefs, more than 55 employees arrived at the culinary kitchen to find an array of ingredients available for combining into unique blends. As they learned about how to deal with difficult customers, the participants worked in groups, to go through the process of making a vinaigrette dressing to sample at the end of the training session with mixed greens and pasta.
“We chose to make vinaigrette dressing because we want employees to learn about working with difficult situations and take them through the process of finding a solution or emulsifying issues,” Wuerth said.
The salad dressing training session uses many analogies to help participants understand the concept. Oil represents the trained employees. Vinegar represents customers with potential problems. Flavorings represent personal character traits, and an emulsifier represents the actions used to bring two people together to make a well-seasoned interaction .
By participating in hands-on learning, employees are able to comprehend and retain more of the material presented. Both “Together We Are Delicious” and “Recipe for Success” involve similarly structured lessons.
“I have been to seminars about giving presentations, and physical interaction is proven to help participants retain knowledge to a higher degree. As a program specialist, I try to get participants up and moving as much as possible,” Wuerth said.
Wuerth’s classes have been held throughout the fall and will continue to be scheduled in the months ahead. Currently designing a fourth culinary class for next year, she hopes to eventually have a food metaphore class represented in all four themes of the Share A Smile campaign.


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