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Distinguished Teacher Jeffrey Zahniser

  • Leo A. Palmiter Jr/Sr High School
  • Sacramento County School District
  • Special Education: Culinary Arts
  • Jr/Sr High School, Special Education Culinary Arts
  • Special Education


What advice would you give to people considering a career in teaching?

The best advice that I would give to a new teacher would be that every child has a need to find acceptance and purpose. Your goal should be to find it and bring out the best in your students. I have taught Culinary Arts for the past 13 years in both secondary and community college as well as professional cooking school. Over the past seven years I have worked with at risk children, encouraging them and demonstrating to them that a path to a career in culinary arts or hospitality can provide them with an exciting and respectable future.
Many young people today lack the role models to help them become productive citizens. Many look for an escape through the use of drugs and look for belonging in other unhealthy ways.
I have come to believe whole-heartedly that a career in culinary arts can provide a solid pathway to a productive and fulfilling future.

What's the best thing about teaching?

The best thing about teaching is for students to leave the school environment and transition into a real job. I strive to make many contacts in the hospitality world, and I take great pleasure in being the champion for my students to find them job placements. I have placed students not only at Columbia College, but also at prestigious facilities such as the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite and Spago Restaurant in Hollywood. Teaching a college course at a high school was quite a challenge, but the students exceeded my expectations and now I have many success stories to show for it.


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