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RCA culinary program receives accreditation through 2017

Junior Brianna Johnson measures milk during culinary arts at the Rockdale Career Academy. Culinary students spent Wednesday making a Bechamel sauce, a white sauce that they will turn into a cheese sauce for pasta. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

Junior Brianna Johnson measures milk during culinary arts at the Rockdale Career Academy. Culinary students spent Wednesday making a Bechamel sauce, a white sauce that they will turn into a cheese sauce for pasta. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

CONYERS -- The culinary program at the Rockdale Career Academy, which was the first in the state to be accredited by the American Culinary Federation in 2009, has had its accreditation renewed.

The program recently received renewal programmatic certification from the ACF Education Foundation Accrediting Commission's secondary certification subcommittee.

"For 25 years, the ACFEF Accrediting Commission has evaluated faculty, curriculum, facilities, student services and administrative capability to ensure that the programs we accredit promote successful student outcomes," said Rob Hudson, Accrediting Commission chair. "We are proud to recognize Rockdale Career Academy's programs as ACFEF certified during this milestone year for the commission."

The certification assures that a program is meeting at least a minimum amount of standards and competencies set for faculty, curriculum and student services. Certification ensures that the program follows established standards, has accountability and credibility standards and maintains a high level of professionalism and up-to-date practices, according to the federation.

Certification is voluntary. To receive it, a program must first submit a self-study. Then, a two-member team performs an on-site evaluation to validate the information submitted in the self-study, which is compiled into a team report. Next, the subcommittee reviews the report, along with the institution's self-study, and decides if certification will be granted and for how long.

RCA's certification will expire again on June 30, 2017.

"The certification validates that we meet and exceed standards established by our industry leaders and standard bearers in the hospitality industry and by the Georgia Department of Education," said instructor Wes Goodman.

He said only 16 culinary programs in the state have earned this certification.

"Our RCA culinary arts' motto is 'a recipe for success,' and we definitely have the right ingredients for our students to be successful," Goodman said.

Goodman touts the program for having state-of-the-art kitchen equipment and a supportive local administration and advisory committee filled with local food business owners.

"Students are actively involved in both the kitchen and skills labs learning teamwork, practical knife skills, safety and sanitation procedures to ensure we are serving food safely," he said. "Students learn not only how to prepare recipes but learn how to serve our numerous guests attending numerous catered events."

RCA students also participate in community service events like assisting with the annual United Way barbecue fundraiser, the Rotary Club's father-daughter Valentine's Day banquet, the Relay for Life survivors brunch, the RCA fall festival and car show, the Rockdale County Chamber of Commerce and school system's annual volunteer luncheon and other special events held at RCA throughout the year.

"We will continue to raise the bar to educate and train our students for the workforce of tomorrow," Goodman said.

Currently, more than 250 students are enrolled in the program with two instructors, which is the largest program in the state.

"The certification process is very rigorous, and Chef Goodman and (Cathy) Harris have once again demonstrated dedication to providing their students with an exemplary program," said Miki Edwards, CEO of RCA. "They have also provided leadership to many other culinary instructors by sharing their best practices in building a quality culinary program and preparing for certification. We are proud to have such dedicated professionals providing our students with quality instruction that is of the highest industry standards."