Sharing and learning about different life experiences. Making connections between what the students are learning about customer service and how it applies to their daily lives. Holding up a spirit of positivity. These are the approaches that make Michael Keenan a great teacher.
A teacher for 24 years, with a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Michael has been named the 2022 Hospitality and Tourism Management Program Teacher of the Year by the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation.
The award is given annually to an educator who fosters learning and connection to the hospitality industry through a national program administered by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute, or AHLEI. Currently, more than 400 students in 20 schools across Minnesota participate in the HTMP program.
Based on his approach to teaching, Keenan created a brand-new Hospitality Tourism Management program at North Metro Career Tech 916 in 2020, where he typically teaches 8-10 special education students each semester.
This year, all of his students had the chance to go through the ServSafe certification process, and several of Michael’s students are already working in the industry. Others plan to do so in the near future. They’ve had the chance to get familiar with the industry through field trips to businesses, guest speakers and virtual job shadowing assignments.
Recently, they’ve heard from a speaker from The Waters senior living residence and visited the Century College Cafeteria and the Best Wester Plus White Bear Country Inn. The exposure to a wide variety of hospitality job helps them see the possibilities of getting a job they’ll love and be good at performing.
Michael also places a high value on mentorship and works to connect his students to professionals in the industry. Bill Foussard, owner of the White Bear Country Inn and a past chair of the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation Board of Directors, has served as a mentor to Michael’s students. Of Michael, he says, “he’s really for the students and wants to see them excel to their ability. He truly cares about the kids, the community and the school.”
Congratulations, Michael, and thanks for all you do!
For more information on the Hospitality and Tourism Management program, visit our web site.