Behind the scenes: Marco Island Academy students learn about the hospitality industry

Students learn about the hospitality industry

Jean Amodea/Eagle Correspondent (7)
MIA students at the Marco Island Marriott Resort, from left, back row: Teacher Kelly Monnot, Cassandra Ramirez, Oscar Alvarez, Nick Dotson, Ian Van Cleef, Patrick Silveri, Blake Barrett and Ben Batcher; front row: Kiera Ludwigsen, John Olszak, Sam Lietzke, Colby Jones and Matt Jessen.

Jean Amodea/Eagle Correspondent (7) MIA students at the Marco Island Marriott Resort, from left, back row: Teacher Kelly Monnot, Cassandra Ramirez, Oscar Alvarez, Nick Dotson, Ian Van Cleef, Patrick Silveri, Blake Barrett and Ben Batcher; front row: Kiera Ludwigsen, John Olszak, Sam Lietzke, Colby Jones and Matt Jessen.

— Upper class students at Marco Island Academy (MIA) are getting a taste of the industry that plays a major part in the area's labor and work force through the new "Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism" course.

Last week during the first of a half dozen tours held at the Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa (Resort), students learned about aspects of front and back of house operations of the hotel's eight food and beverage outlets including in-house dining.

Director of Restaurants Youssef Oualidi led the group into the renovated lobby lounge Korals that now features a sushi bar and trendy, modern décor that includes a visually appealing, vertical, lighted fish tank and floor to ceiling windows.

Oualidi explained how the new look and popular food offering has accounted for a revenue jump from $500,000 to $2,000,000 in that outlet alone.

He then led the group into the Café San Marco that in season reaps up to $8,000 in sales per day that sometimes trumps revenue from the fine dining outlet Kurrents, then to breakfast spot, Tropiks and to Pazzi's, a casual lunch and pizza eatery.

The Italian inspired bistro, a renovation of two ground floor hotel rooms offers a new dining concept featuring self-service, which does not require tipping, similar to a Panera Bread restaurant, explained Oualidi.

The new course is a bold and ground-breaking expansion of the MIA curriculum, designed to leverage the experience of local resort management industry professionals.

Its goal is to provide a foundation for students to assist them in determining career options in an industry so crucial to the local economy.

In a collaborative partnership with the Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa (Resort) through General Manager Rick Medwedeff, also a MIA advisory board member, MIA introduced the semester-long course at the start of the current school term.

"As far as I know there are no other district schools with a similar program that will offer hands-on experience with a local resort," said Jane Watt, MIA chairperson.

"Our students are very fortunate to have this opportunity for experiential education. They will get an inside perspective of the business world, and potential opportunities for a future in the resort management industry."

The elective course involves 16 chapters of study that includes such topics as economics, the impact of tourism, destination sales, marketing, promotion and careers in the hotel and tourism industry.

Students will learn from a selection of in-class guest speakers – resort professionals – who will speak on the topics of tourism, destination sales, marketing, product design, distribution and promotion.

Medwedeff is also slated to speak and will provide a presentation on "The Hotel Business," which will cover the types of hotel classifications, the importance of yield management and describe guest services, various hotel positions and more.

"As a global company, we open the world to the students and offer job opportunities that are viable worldwide. Under one roof, we provide a diversity of career options unlike any other business," said Medwedeff.

"The unparalleled variety of positions provides the students with a unique opportunity to preview long term careers that can provide benefits, security and a livelihood."

A half dozen scheduled tours will cover hotel will provide insight into the practical aspect of front and back of house hotel operations and feature representatives from restaurant operations, guest services, recreation, marketing and sales departments.

The semester will culminate with a tour from human resources personnel who will help students explore careers in the hospitality and tourism industry.

MIA Hospitality and Tourism instructor Kelly Monnot who also teaches health and physical education said the small class size of 12 specially selected students has been an advantage and that others are eager to take the class in the spring semester.

"So far, this is has been a very successful class and the students have been very engaged and are excited to learn about this familiar industry from the experts at the Resort," she added.

"The classroom guest speakers share 'real-life' knowledge and expertise in their specific field which gives our students a wonderful opportunity not only to learn about the hospitality industry, but also to learn about the tools needed to be successful in any job market."

Watt, Medwedeff and the MIA staff collaborated to develop the program's curriculum, goals and objectives.

Medwedeff said that Human Resources Manager Garrett Morgan and Monica Alvarez, director of training and he worked on program details for the past six months.

MIA is a tuition-free public charter high school with grades nine through 12. Any student residing in Collier County is eligible to enroll.

According to Watt, the school is continuing efforts to raise funds for decking, landscaping, roofing and other projects in order to open a new campus location.

For more information, call (239) 249-0004 or visit marcoislandacademy.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 9

eaglepalooza writes:

Funny how this school opened up a year ago as the place for a "world class education" and also where you can study Marine Biology under the great Jaques Cousteau foundation....a year later they are a "C" rated school teaching the kids how to bake cookies!

ajm3s writes:

As a follow-up, Ms. Watt has endorsed the incumbents running for council, along with candidates that believe in expansion of facilities, which in itself is a continuation of more of the same........

Bear in mind, Ms. Watt also lead the charge for creation of a high school with an emphasis on a building a campus policy as a priority on this island. A vision which lead to an intervention last year to deal with disciplinary issues resulting in the replacement of a principal and exodus of teachers due to financial considerations. In essence, focusing resources on a physical facility vs resources to formulate and support a core curriculum/lesson plan and professional staffing.

Why? I believe it is the direct result of a MIA board with poor fiscal planning coupled with a misappropriation of resources, again a priority on building plans and the abandonment or dilution of a core curriculum with the introduction of electives.

And the folks, who continue to support a high school to be built with all the anticipation of a grand ribbon cutting ceremony to allow electives to be the stuff now reported in this article as a grand achievement. I am in awe the MIA board caters to non-core educational electives, especially in a community comprised of residents who sought and achieved excellence in their respective fields through sound fiscal planning and execution.

I do understand why Ms. Watt would endorse incumbents, because excellence is not a goal just a slogan.

Simply dumbfounded,

Publius

ajm3s writes:

As a follow-up and alternative approach, I offer a high school developed in the early 70's with an emphasis on curriculum and learning, rather than using limited financial resources on the creation of a school with walls.

Interestingly, the name of the school: A School Without Walls, which provides an academic curriculum and encourages students to "use the city as a classroom."

http://swwhs.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_W...

But then again, in MIA culture of glitz and glamor, a world class learning center can only be built from the ground up. Only to further the creation of new shiny facilities on this barrier island while the students are taught the intricacies of hospitality as an elective.

I guess real estate development and tourist industry is more important than a core curriculum to educate adolescents from the perspective of the MIA board.

So pick your candidates accordingly given we now have 12 years of history under city governance and the endorsement of Ms. Watt.

Vote 2012!

RayPray writes:

in response to eaglepalooza:

Funny how this school opened up a year ago as the place for a "world class education" and also where you can study Marine Biology under the great Jaques Cousteau foundation....a year later they are a "C" rated school teaching the kids how to bake cookies!

World class has a different connotation in Florida, a state lines with impressive sounding strip mall universities.

As long as this awesome omphalos of erudition supplies the island with another pint size football team, no reason to complain.

lauralbi1 writes:

AJM: I used to read your blogs with interest and respect. But for you to question why Ms. Watt would endorse the incumbents (and hopefully Larry Honig) is a real mystery. I suggest you review recent history with regard to the non-incumbents to figure out why. But, in reality, you know why already and I assume your questioning of Ms Watts endorsement is purely rhetorical or an expression of disappointment.
Anyway, we support who we support and respect who gets elected. At least some of us do.
Ed Issler

ajm3s writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

AJM: I used to read your blogs with interest and respect. But for you to question why Ms. Watt would endorse the incumbents (and hopefully Larry Honig) is a real mystery. I suggest you review recent history with regard to the non-incumbents to figure out why. But, in reality, you know why already and I assume your questioning of Ms Watts endorsement is purely rhetorical or an expression of disappointment.
Anyway, we support who we support and respect who gets elected. At least some of us do.
Ed Issler

Ed:

I enjoy dialog, and my comments were to show a perspective and parallel of those I believe are misguided. Now, I am on record of believing in local schools, but I am NOT a believer in misguided policies and vision. Why do I make such a bold statement? And why do I see a parallel with Ms. Watt's vision for public education and her endorsement for a slate of candidates?

Ms. Watt and the MIA board has shown itself to be very focused on getting a facility built right from the start. This focus indicates a strange sense of priorities, given the time restraints and limited financial resources typically found in start-up campaigns. This vision, took valuable time and resources that should be geared to the establishment and roll out of a school, namely establishing a quality teaching staff and rigorous core curriculum with an administration that meets stringent objectives.

Bear in mind, I do not believe, Ms. Watt is a professional school administrator because getting a facility built would not be a top priority for a start-up charter high school. I for one believe this board is misguided, and now to read about an elective on hospitality is a testimony to support my position.

We may disagree as to whom we would endorse, but I see Ms. Watt's endorsement as a slate of candidates that encourage real estate development of public facilities, to the detriment of education. And interestingly, Ms. Watt does not see it as I see it but is actually contributing to mediocrity.

I want a successful high school, but I would be more impressed with the success of graduates and their future exploits. And to facilitate such an outcome is NOT to spend time and resources on a building campaign but the execution of fundamentals, like core curriculum and discipline.

See "naysayers", like myself, want a better community based on excellence through execution of fundamentals, NOT a community based on accommodating benefactors or shiny new buildings to be hip and chic or address special requests.

And a major component of continuing success is adherence and understanding fiscal responsibility and a view of priorities that are NOT befuddled with ribbon cutting glitter.

So what does this city need: REFORM, a return to basics or perhaps a remedial summer school program to address deficiencies.

And this discussion could go on....

lauralbi1 writes:

We all vote a vision for our Island. We all do not share the same vision.
The candidates running reflect different visions for our future.
Once again we will see what vision the majority of voters desire.
These blogs certainly will not determine the election outcome.
So we just continue to share opinions.
Ed Issler

2themoon writes:

Oh miss Watt, what a tangled web we weave...these fellas you endorse are the same crew that want nothing more than to see your little dream fail. Although it is a short history, Marco has a history of "setting up" entities it wants to fail by a handshake and a promise on the front end...

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